As an engineer, eventually you will have to insert an equation into your written work or presentation. This can be a struggle as equation editors are not always the friendliest. However, there is good news. The equation editor in Word has improved immensely (I am using version 2010 here). In this blog we look at how to insert an equation into a Word document. As a bonus, there is information on how to insert an equation into a web page with an html code generator website.
In order to start, I went to the Wikipedia website “List of equations in classical mechanics,” . I wanted something with a subscripts and superscripts. I found this equation for resonant frequency.
I wanted a radical that encased a formula with an operand as these are often hard to put under the radical sign. In addition, I wanted a numerator and denominator for showcasing these often difficult entries. This equation was perfect.
The struggles with Word have been reduced with the new equation editor (Insert>Equation which is in the box labelled “Symbols”). Reference  has a video tutorial to get you started. It helps if you get into the Design Tab in Word. You must click inside the equation for this tab to appear.
The Design tab is a welcome addition to Word’s Equation Editor. It has made equation building much easier. It took about a half hour to get the first equation correct. The time was spent looking for methods on the internet and hunting down symbols in the Insert>Symbol tab. After a few tries, I got it to look like this.
As you can see, this equation comes out in a clear and crisp image. I haven’t had that success when cutting and pasting equations from MathCAD.
Word remembers the symbols that you insert. Here you can see Omega and “k”. I couldn’t get a “k” that looked like the one in the original equation. Note that text formatting from the Home>font menu doesn’t work inside the equation editor.
The symbol editor can be a bit difficult to navigate. Once you get the hang of it, you can find symbols relatively easily. Note that you have to close the box to proceed with writing the equation. Otherwise, Word inserts a symbol every time you click on it.
Word also has some canned equations available too. Here is an example
If you wish to insert an equation into a web page, Reference  does just that. This web page, Online LaTeX Equation Editor,” uses a menu driven software that creates the html text for inserting into your web page. The page has two boxes displaying the html text. The text in the bottom box (hi -lited blue in the figure) is what you will copy to your web page. There is also a visual representation of the equation showing the final view. This is a rather slick option for those that don’t know html code very well. And the best part about is it’s free. Donations are accepted.
Note that there is a warning about reproducing the software in the page source code which states: “This is NOT free software, although it can be used freely. It can only be hosted on a server and/or modify if you own a CodeCogs Commercial License for this product. This can be purchased from CODECOGS
You must retain a copy of this license in all copies of the software,”  There could be legal implications for using the software however there is no clear indication of the legalities of inserting the code. I’d run it by your legal department just in case.
I put the html text into Composer, the web page generation software offered by Sea Monkey. The equation looked like the one on the web page. Both versions were a little grainy. Note that I mistakenly added external parenthesis.
Here is the html code that the equation editor  generated:
Although I like the time saving aspect of the equation generator, it creates a potential problem. The html text directs you to the website were the equation code is stored. It there website ever goes down, you might end up with a blank symbol on your web page. There is also an option on the page to download the image as shown in the following figure.
One solution is to cut and paste the graphic form of the equation and then upload the image to your page. It might be even grainier when using the Snipping Tool however it will still be viewable whereas it won’t be if codecogs’s website goes down or they pull your license.
The html text can be inserted easily into a WordPress website as shown below . This is relatively easy to do by switching from the “Visual” view to the “Text” view on the Page Edit page. Again, it’s a bit grainy however it does show the needed information.
In a final attempt at getting an image with better clarity, I copied the equation from Word and inserted it into the Composer “Normal” dialog box as shown below (as opposed to inserting it as html code). As you can see, this image (second of the two) is still grainy.
Equations are a part of technical writing. As software improves, the task of generating equations gets easier. There are tools available in Word as well as online for generating web page html code. These valuable assets are time savers that allow you to effectively communicate your information.
- “List of equations in classical mechanics,” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia List_of_equations_in_classical_mechanics
- “Microsoft Word 2007 Equation Editor,” Youtube instruction video for Word Equation Editor
- “Online LaTeX Equation Editor – create, integrate and download,” Online Equation editor and html code generator “Copyright (C) 2004-2011 CodeCogs, Zyba Ltd, Broadwood, Holford, TA5 1DU, England. Written by Will Bateman.”
- “Effective Technical Writing : Thesis and Dissertations,” web page
- “Online LaTeX Equation Editor – create, integrate and download,” Online Equation editor and html code generator Source Code view-source: “Copyright (C) 2004-2011 CodeCogs, Zyba Ltd, Broadwood, Holford, TA5 1DU, England. Written by Will Bateman.