MathType Tip: Advanced Techniques for Adding Equations and Symbols to Word Documents: Part
||MathType 4 and later (Windows)
MathType 5 and later (Macintosh)
This Tip explains how to use Word's automatic correction features to
make the inclusion of MathType equations in your Word documents easier and
MathType and Microsoft Word are powerful tools for authoring documents
containing mathematical notation. While the MathType Commands for Word simplify
this process, by taking advantage of Word's automatic correction features you
can easily insert frequently-used equations and symbols. You can insert
equations by typing just a short keyword; Word will automatically replace the
keyword with a corresponding equation without opening a MathType window. This
Tip explains how to define these keywords in Word and associate them with
MathType equations. We also discuss when to insert simple
expressions (e.g., subscripted variables) as text and when to insert them as
This article addresses Word 2002 (Office XP) for Windows, but also applies
to earlier and later versions of Word for both Windows and Macintosh. Where there are
differences in menus or commands between different versions of Word, they will
Although this article only discusses Microsoft Word, similar features are
available in Microsoft Access, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint, but not in
FrontPage. AutoCorrect entries (not AutoText) created in one Office application
will be available in the others.
Note: This article will assume you have basic familiarity with
Word and MathType. If you do not have basic familiarity with both products,
please refer to the appropriate manual, help file, or online tutorial. You must
also be familiar with basic Windows and Macintosh features, especially selecting
and copying objects.
This article will be basic in nature and addresses the following topics:
- Types of automatic correction in Word
- Using MathType with AutoText
- Using MathType with AutoCorrect
- Specific suggestions and examples
We recommend printing this article to make it easier to work through the
steps given in the examples below. After you've mastered these concepts, you can
proceed to a more advanced Tip.
Types of automatic correction in Word
Word has three types of automatic correction: AutoFormat, AutoText, and
AutoCorrect. The options for all automatic corrections may be viewed and changed
by selecting "AutoCorrect Options..." from the Tools menu in Word.
(In some versions of Word, the item is titled simply "AutoCorrect".)
Remember, even though you are changing the settings in Word, the settings will
take effect in all Office applications.
Differences are numerous between the three types of automatic correction, but
there are similarities as well. The names of the three types of correction give
some hint as to their purpose:
AutoFormat is used to change the formatting of characters (such
as changing 1/2 to ½ or *bold text* to bold text) or paragraphs (such as
changing paragraphs to bulleted or numbered lists, based on characters you enter
at the beginning of the line).
AutoText is intended to replace text with other text, but gives
you the option of making the replacement. You can cause a character, a word, a
paragraph, or even an entire page to be replaced after typing just a few
AutoCorrect is intended to correct misspellings and make simple
replacements, but you can also replace entire paragraphs or pages like you can
with AutoText. A major difference is that AutoCorrect doesn't give you the
option of making the replacement; it just does it.
With AutoFormat, you can choose to apply all formatting changes after you've
typed your document, or you can have Word apply each formatting style as
you type. The second method of AutoFormat, which Microsoft appropriately calls
"AutoFormat As You Type," is a source of frustration to many Word users. This
feature is the one, for example, that continues a numbered list after you type
the first element in the list. Let's say you are typing a math test and have numbered
the first question. When you hit enter at the end of the question, Word assumes
you have finished the first item in the numbered list and that you want to start
the second item. Thus, it begins the new line with the next number in sequence
and indents the line accordingly. This may not be what you want, since you may
have more than one paragraph in the question (as in a word problem), or you may
need a new paragraph to list multiple responses.
With AutoFormat (as opposed to AutoFormat As You Type),
you can have Word apply all the formatting changes when you choose
either all at once, or optionally selecting them one change at a time. To
use AutoFormat, select it from the Format menu and follow the
prompts. AutoFormat is useful if you have pasted text into the document
from another document, or when you have AutoFormat As You Type disabled.
Since AutoFormat cannot be used to automatically insert objects such as MathType
equations, we will focus the remainder of the Tip on the other two
automatic corrections – AutoText and AutoCorrect.
(N/A Word 2007)
The second type of automatic correction provided by Word is AutoText.
AutoText is useful for replacing short text strings with several words or
paragraphs. For example, if your name is Frank James and you need to enter your
address several times whenever you prepare a particular type of document, you
can have Word make the replacement for you every time you type the text
Sometimes you will want to write your name without your address, of course, so a
nice feature of AutoText is that Word will display a pop-up asking if you want
to make the substitution. When the pop-up appears, simply keep typing if you
don't want Word to
make the replacement. To make the replacement, press the Enter key, the Tab key,
or F3 (Windows only). This feature can produce surprising results, such as if you were creating
a table with the first names of several people as table headings. If you type
Frank, followed by the Tab key to move to the next column, Word inserts your
full name and address. Any time Word makes an unwanted correction, you can
reverse the correction by selecting Undo from the Edit menu, or by typing Ctrl+Z
In general, AutoText isn't as useful as AutoCorrect for technical papers, but
it has some features that make it more attractive than AutoCorrect in specific
- AutoText is better if
you don't want to replace every instance of the text.
- AutoText lists are easier to transfer to another computer or to share with
colleagues than are AutoCorrect lists. (This feature and the next will be
covered in the advanced techniques Application Note.)
- An AutoText entry may be inserted into the document as a field, which
allows for easy updating if the contents change.
- Word 2007 handles AutoText as a "Building Block", and it works
differently from what is described here. If you're interested in using
AutoText with Word 2007, see the
Microsoft article on the subject.
The third type of automatic correction available in Word is AutoCorrect. This
type of automatic correction is typically used to correct commonly misspelled words (such
as "teh" when you meant to type "the"), incorrectly capitalized words (such as
"archaeopteryx" when you meant to type "Archaeopteryx") or for entering common
symbols by typing their text counterparts (such as entering
© by typing "(c)" or entering ¢ by typing
"c/"). AutoCorrect will replace a simple text string with a character, word,
phrase, or even paragraphs of text.
Both AutoText and AutoCorrect can be used to insert clip art, drawings, or
MathType equations. In this article, we discuss using these features with
MathType. In the advanced features Tip, we discuss using the automatic
correction features to insert clip art and drawings.
Using MathType with AutoText (N/A Word 2007)
AutoText is very useful for inserting common symbols or formulas with just a
few keystrokes. In this section, we'll see how to set up AutoText to insert
MathType equations, and how to use this feature in your own Word documents.
To use MathType with AutoText, follow these simple steps. Although these
steps are specific to Word 2002, you should also be able to use the same
procedure in Word 97, 98, 2000, 2001, X, 2003, and 2004 with little or no
modification. Keep in mind that we often use the word "equation" to mean
anything created with MathType, whether or not there is an equal sign.
Setting up the AutoText entry:
- Insert a MathType equation into your
- Select the equation by clicking on it
- From the Tools menu, select AutoCorrect
- In the AutoCorrect dialog, select the
- Notice the equation is already
inserted into the Preview window. (There is no way to paste an object
into the Preview window. The object is there because you selected
it in step 2 above.)
- Type the replacement text in the "Enter
AutoText entries here:" window. Choose something that is both easy to
remember and is not likely to appear in normal text. In this case,
"limx0" makes sense because the replacement object is "the limit as x
approaches zero". (Actually, you could use the entire phrase "limit
as x approaches zero" here, but it's probably easier and
quicker if you come
up with some easily remembered shortcut, such as "limx0".)
- Click Add; the AutoCorrect dialog closes.
Using the AutoText entry:
- In your document, when you type the first
4 letters of your AutoText replacement string, Word offers to replace
the string with your AutoText object or text string. Press Enter, Tab,
or F3 (Windows only)
to make the replacement.
- Once the replacement is made, either
continue typing or insert another object.
Using MathType with AutoCorrect
Using MathType with AutoCorrect is very similar to using MathType with
AutoText, but since AutoCorrect doesn't give you the option whether to make the
replacement, AutoCorrect is often used for common substitutions (such as the
examples given above) or for misspellings. Excellent
uses of AutoCorrect for technical documents abound; some suggestions are listed
|L-T (or l-t)
|sq2 (or sr2)
The list is literally endless, but these suggestions give you an idea of
the great utility of AutoCorrect when used with MathType. To insert a MathType
object into your AutoCorrect list, follow the procedures above
for AutoText, except click on the AutoCorrect tab instead of the AutoText tab.
There is an important distinction between AutoCorrect and AutoText that has
already been mentioned, but is important enough to repeat. AutoCorrect does not
give you the option of whether or not to make the replacement. It immediately
makes the replacement upon typing a "word terminator". You can still undo the
replacement as with AutoText (by typing Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z), but it's best to only
put those items in AutoCorrect that you will want to replace every time. (A
"word terminator" is anything that terminates a word as you type. When you're
typing text, Word knows you have completed the current word when you type any
punctuation symbol, the spacebar, the Tab key, or the Enter key. Any of these
keys and symbols will cause Word to immediately make an AutoCorrect replacement
if one exists.)
Because Word makes the correction immediately upon encountering a word
terminator, it's essential that you don't choose a title for an AutoCorrect
entry that will be a word in normal text. For example, if you want to enter the
, don't call
it "quad" or "quadratic". Both of those are likely to appear as words, and most
likely at the least opportune time! In this case, it's much better to choose a
title like "qu" for the replacement. Remember, although the letter combination
qu will appear often in documents, it will never appear as a word. Therefore,
whenever you type the letters
qu, followed by any word
terminator, Word will make the substitution and insert the formula. It will
not make the substitution when you type the word quadratic, the word quick,
or any other word that contains the letters
See the next section below for some specific suggestions
on when to use AutoCorrect and when not to use it.
Specific Suggestions and Examples
Now that you are familiar with the methods of automatic correction in Word,
here are some suggestions for use, as well as some specific examples.
- Use AutoText if you don't want to replace every instance of a text string, but
would like to choose when to replace.
- Use AutoCorrect if you want to replace every instance of a text string with another
text string or object as you type, for simple substitutions that do not have to be edited,
or for commonly misspelled words
When to use MathType with AutoText and AutoCorrect
These are suggestions for using AutoText and AutoCorrect, but when
should you use MathType? When you insert math and science symbols and equations,
right? Not necessarily. You could use MathType, for example, to insert
the Greek letter pi: p. Your document will be smaller
and operate faster though, if you would insert pi by using the Insert Symbol
command (from the Insert menu). You could also switch to Symbol font, type the
letter p, and switch back to the font you're using for your document. Note that
it's not incorrect to use MathType in this case, it's just that there's a
better way to do it. Here are some suggestions for when not to use
MathType. (The suggestions apply generically within a document, even if you're
not using AutoCorrect.)
We recommend do not use MathType for
OK to use MathType for...
simple subscripts or superscripts.
use subscript and superscript text formatting in Word:
compound superscripts and subscripts, or sub/superscripts within another
symbols available with Insert/Symbol.
use the Insert Symbol command:
3 × 4 = 12
x2 ÷ x = x
combinations of symbols and items not
available with Insert/Symbol:
use Word for text and MathType for symbols and constructs you can't create
*Note: When converting a Word document to HTML, text with
super/subscript formatting will look different in Word when compared to the HTML
document and to a MathType equation. Compare the three examples below (shown
larger than normal):
|in Word, using formatting
||converted to HTML
Although the difference is easily noticeable, it is not necessarily an
objectionable difference. That's for you to decide, but you should at least be
aware of the difference.
These are very specific suggestions, but hopefully you can see the general
cases for each. Remember document stability, size, and simplicity are all
optimized when inserting technical expressions as plain text whenever possible. Now let's take a look at some specific examples when AutoText
and AutoCorrect can come in very handy.
You are preparing a fractions quiz for your sixth-graders, and you
want to create two versions of the quiz, which will contain mixed number
multiplication problems as well as fraction division problems. Having just
completed this Application Note on AutoCorrect, you realize this is a perfect use of the
feature. You decide to enter 5 different fractions and 5 different mixed
numbers, as well as the multiplication and division symbols and a blank answer
space into AutoCorrect.
You choose the fractions
and the mixed numbers
To use logical names, you name them 1/2, 2/3, etc. for the fractions, and 11/2,
22/3, 24/7, etc. for the mixed numbers. Since the letters m and d will never
appear alone in the text of a document, you use "m" for the AutoCorrect
entry for the multiplication symbol (×) and
"d" for the division symbol (÷). You also
want to leave 10 underscore characters for the student to write the answer, so you type
10 underscores, highlight them, select Tools/AutoCorrect Options, and
call it "ans". So now you're ready, and you enter "1/2 m 3/5 = ans " for
the first question. In your document, you see
Try it out: Use MathType and AutoCorrect to enter the fractions and
mixed numbers shown above, as well as the multiplication and division symbols.
Use Insert/Symbol in Word to enter the two symbols. Be sure to highlight the
symbol before you select Tools/AutoCorrect Options. Use whatever shortcut names
are logical to you, either the ones we suggest above or your own. Finally, enter
the answer blank into AutoCorrect as described above, then try it out. See how
easy it is to make a 10-question quiz using MathType and AutoCorrect.
You want to create a test to see if your students understand proportions. You
decide to create some blank macros in MathType so that you only have to fill in
the empty slots to complete the problems. (If you're unsure how to do this,
refer the MathType documentation.) You enter 4 blank proportions into
MathType's Large Tabbed Bar:
|MathType for Windows
||MathType for Macintosh
You wonder if this is a good application for AutoCorrect or AutoText, but
your colleague points out that if you define these as AutoCorrect entries,
you'll still have to edit them after you enter them into the Word document. It
would be much better to just leave them on the MathType Large Tabbed Bar, and
insert them separately as MathType objects, since that would be much quicker than
using AutoCorrect or AutoText entries.
As a general rule, you should never use AutoCorrect or AutoText for something
that will have to be edited after it's inserted into the document.
When using MathType with Word:
- You'll have a smaller, faster, cleaner document if you let Word do what it
can without MathType (simple subscripts, superscripts, etc.). Just be aware
of the difference in appearance. If it's more important to have
consistent-looking equations, use MathType throughout.
- Using MathType with AutoCorrect and AutoText is a great way to speed up
your work, but it ends up being counterproductive if you let Word make an
automatic correction that you have to edit in MathType. You're better off
inserting the expression directly from MathType, without the intermediate step
of AutoCorrect or AutoText.
In most cases, you'll find AutoCorrect superior to AutoText:
- Unformatted AutoCorrect entries are available to all Office applications
- When an AutoCorrect replacement is made in Office XP or later (including
Office 2003 and 2004), if you hover your cursor over the AutoCorrected entry,
a "lightning bolt" icon gives you access to the full
array of AutoCorrect options, both for this individual entry and for
AutoCorrect in general.
- It takes an extra keystroke Enter, Tab, or F3 to put an AutoText entry
into a document. This may be distracting.
However, in some instances, AutoText is superior:
- You can create AutoText entries without fear of accidentally triggering a
replacement, since AutoText requires input from you to make the replacement.
- AutoText screen tips warn you about the contents of the replacement.
AutoCorrect gives no warning.
- AutoCorrect entries are global, so they take effect throughout Office.
AutoText entries are specific to Word.
Now that you've mastered the basic concepts of AutoCorrect and AutoText,
you're ready for the next Tip. In the advanced Tip, we'll cover
- these two methods of automatic correction in more detail,
- using AutoText and Word field codes to make global substitutions in your
- using AutoCorrect and AutoText to enter Word AutoShapes and clip art, and
- exchanging AutoText and AutoCorrect lists with colleagues or transferring
them to another computer.
On to the advanced Tip...