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TechNote #37: Last modified: 07/17/02
Last reviewed: 07/17/02

Arrows and Arcs over Two Characters

The information in this document applies to:

MathType 3.x (Win)
MathType 3.x (Mac)
Microsoft Equation


MathType users may need to create an arc or arrow that spans multiple characters and cannot determine how to do so.


MathType 3.5 and later and Microsoft Equation 3.0 and later (included with Microsoft Word 97 and later) currently support multi-character arcs and arrows. Rather than using an embellishment, which can only be applied to a single character after inserting it, the appropriate template should be selected from the Underbar and Overbar templates palette, which is in the second row.

Users who are still using MathType 3.1 or earlier, or the equation editor included with old versions of Word who would like to generate arcs and arrows over multiple characters can create them with a little bit of a nudging and resizing. The result will be a very thick arc or arrow, but may be acceptable for many users.


While this workaround will produce a fairly decent looking embellishment over 2 characters, attempting this workaround over more than 2 entries may produce undesirable results.  Additionally, if you deal with these types of equations on a regular basis, the workaround listed below will become quite tedious.  If this is the case, we highly recommend that you consider the newest version of MathType that handles these sorts of equations directly.

  1. Type in the two variables over which the embellishment will appear. For example:

  1. Select the embellishment symbol you want from the palette. It will appear over the second variable, as below:

  1. Hold down the Option key (on a Macintosh) or the Ctrl key (on a PC) while clicking on the embellishment. It should now be highlighted:

  1. Select Other from the Size menu. Enter a size slightly larger than twice the listed font size (e.g. if the listed size is 12 pt, enter 26 pt). The equation should look like this:

  1. Now nudge the embellishment into place by holding down the Command key (on a Macintosh) or the Ctrl key (on a PC) while using the arrow keys to change the position. The end result should look something like this:

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