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TechNote #105: Last modified: 07/21/04

Microsoft Word crashes when saving documents containing MathType equations

The information in this document applies to:

MathType 6.x (Win) Microsoft Word 2002-2007 (Win)



Microsoft Word 2007, Word 2003, and Word 2002 with Service Pack 2 (version 10.4219.4219 or later) may crash and close with a Word error when doing a Save on certain documents after inserting numbered MathType equations.


The Numbered Equations feature in MathType's Word commands utilizes Word's fields. These fields are updated when an equation number or reference is inserted or when the document is saved. Word's fields can also be updated by selecting all the document's content and pressing F9. It appears either the document and/or these fields become corrupted and cause a crash during the Save.

MathType users may experience this problem when doing a Save after any of the following MathType commands are used:

Insert Left-numbered Equation
Insert Right-numbered Equation
Insert Equation Number (or Equation Reference)
Update Equation Numbers

All of these commands use the required Word field update routine at their core.

This faulty condition has existed in documents created in Word 2002-2007, but the Save crash most often occurs in Word 2002 SP-2. There could also be some connection in the combination of versions of Windows and Word.

It is not clear to us how a document gets into the state that makes it vulnerable to this crash. The MathType equation objects in all the suspect documents tested are valid and behave normally. But there may be some data in or around the fields near these objects that is getting corrupted.


The following sections offer some solutions and suggestions for repairing faulty documents and may help reduce the frequency of this crash.

  1. Run the Convert Equations command
  2. Save in RTF format
  3. Use an alternate version of Word
  4. Copying and pasting equations within Word

The Convert Equations command

The first step is to run the MathType|Convert Equations command in Word on a suspect document (found on the MathType menu). This may correct the document's equation contents so that the Save crash will not occur after subsequent Word field updates. It is not clear how permanent the fix is and the faulty condition may return as more work is done.

Save in RTF format

The next approach is to use Word's RTF (rich text) format.

  1. Go to File|Save As in Word and save your document to the RTF format (note that the file size will increase).
  2. Select all the contents of the document by pressing CTRL-A.
  3. Press F9; this updates all the Word fields (essentially the same as the MathType commands listed above without adding content).
  4. Save As again to the standard Word doc or docx format (and maybe change the file name).

Tests have shown that these conversions with the update step in-between may fix the field corruption in the document.

The Save crash may resurface again. If the problems return after doing the above, then consider working exclusively in the RTF version of the file (after another conversion).

Use an alternate version of Word

These faulty documents do not usually crash in Word 2002 Service Pack 3 or the more recent Word 2003. Also, crashes have rarely been reported when using Word 2002 prior to the SP-2 update. Switching to one of these later Office/Word versions might be the best solution for you.

Copying and Pasting Equations within Word

Some users have reported that they often copy & paste MathType equation objects within a document. We have never recommended this practice and we know that Word can fail during a save or in other ways after these OLE objects have been 'copied' in this manner (see 'How to Prevent the Disk Full Error' in TechNote 64). If you need to copy an equation, open it in MathType, select and copy the contents, close the MT window, insert a new equation in Word and paste the contents into that. While this is more time consuming, it may very well help reduce or alleviate the Save crash noted above.

Getting This Problem Addressed by Microsoft

It's important for Microsoft’s customers to report their experience of this problem so that Microsoft can appreciathow widespread it is and appreciate the need to devote their programming resources toward resolving it. We’ve reported the details of this issue, including sample documents to Microsoft, and we encourage all users who experience this problem to do the same.

Auto-recovery Errors

If Microsoft Word crashes it may "auto-recover" your document. There is a known bug in Word 2002 that may prevent MathType equations from being opened after auto-recovery of the document. Please refer to Equations have become “pictures” after an Autorecovery in Microsoft Word 2002 for details.

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