Add equations with Microsoft Equation to your Office document

Applies to
Microsoft Office Access 2003
Microsoft Office Excel 2003
Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003
Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003
Microsoft Office Word 2003
Book cover This article was adapted from Microsoft Office System Inside Out by Michael J. Young and Michael Halvorson. Visit Microsoft Learning to buy this book.

Build Equations with Microsoft Equation Editor

If you create Office documents that involve mathematics, you’ll find the little-publicized Microsoft Equation Editor program useful for accurately formatting equations in your documents. You can insert an equation into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook (in the large text box of an item opened in a form), or Access (in an OLE Object type field). To enter an equation, do the following:

  1. On the Insert menu, click Object.
  2. In the Insert Object dialog box, click the Create New option, and then click Microsoft Equation 3.0. If Microsoft Equation Editor is not available, you may need to install it.


If you originally installed Microsoft Office from a network file server or from a shared folder, you must install Equation Editor from that location. If you installed Office from a CD-ROM, you must install Equation Editor from the disc.

  1. Quit all programs.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • If you run Microsoft Windows 2000, double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon in Control Panel.
    • If you run Microsoft Windows XP, click Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel.
  3. In the Currently installed programs box, click the listing for Microsoft Office or the individual Office program, depending on whether you installed the program as part of Office or individually, and then click Change.
  4. On the Maintenance Mode Options screen, click Add or Remove Features, and then click Next.
  5. If a Custom Setup screen appears, select the Choose advanced customization of applications check box, and then click Next.
  6. On the Advanced Customization screen, in the list of features to install, click the expand indicator (+) next to Office Tools.
  7. Click the arrow next to Equation Editor, and then click Run from My Computer.
  8. Click Update.
  9. Restart the Office program you were using.

Equation Editor will insert a blank working area into your document, and the Equation toolbar and menus will appear within the Office program’s window.

A blank working area and the Equation toolbar in a Word document.

The equation you insert is an embedded object created by the Equation Editor program. In the example above, an Equation object is embedded in a Word document.

Use the following instructions to create a mathematical expression:

  1. To enter numbers or variables, simply type them using the keyboard, such as the y typed to begin the following example equation: Beginning equation with first character entered.
  2. To enter a mathematical operator that appears on the keyboard, such as the plus sign (+), the minus sign (–), or the equals sign (=), you can simply type it. For instance, you could add an equals sign to the example equation, as shown here:

Sample equation with equals sign operator.

  1. To enter an operator or symbol that doesn’t appear on the keyboard, click the appropriate button on the top row of the Equation toolbar and then click the desired symbol on the drop-down menu of symbols. For example, clicking the symbol shown here:Operator drop-down menu on Equation toolbar

adds a plus-or-minus symbol (±) to the example equation, as shown below:

Equation with plus or minus symbol

  1. To enter an expression such as a fraction, a square root, an exponent, or an integral, click the appropriate button on the bottom row of the Equation toolbar, and then click one of the templates on the drop-down menu. For example, click the following template:

 selected from Equation toolbar.

to add a square-root expression to the example equation, as shown below:

Square root expression

  1. Enter the desired numbers and variables into the area marked by dotted lines within the template. For example, you could type the following into the radical expression in the example equation:

Radical expression


  • You can insert templates within other templates to create nested operator expressions, such as a fraction within a square-root operator.
  • You can modify the font, font size, position (for example, subscript or superscript), or format (normal, bold, or italic) of characters or symbols by selecting them and then choosing commands from the Style and Size menus.
  • When you hold the mouse pointer over a button on the Equation toolbar, a description of the button will be displayed in a ScreenTip next to the button.
  • If you attempt to enter space characters in an expression, the Equation Editor will beep and you will be unable to manually enter a space. This is because in order to create consistent spacing, the Equation Editor automatically sets the spacing between the numbers and symbols that you enter and you can't type in space characters manually. You can adjust the spacing or alignment of symbols, however, by selecting symbols from the Spaces And Ellipses drop-down menu (shown below), or by choosing commands on the Format menu.

Spaces and Ellipses drop-down menu on Equation toolbar.

  • You can display an equation in faded letters by clicking the Color button on the Picture toolbar, and then clicking Washout on the drop-down menu. (If the Picture toolbar is not visible, on the View menu, point to Toolbars, and then click Picture.) You can also crop (rather than scale) an equation by clicking the Crop button on the Picture toolbar or by using the options on the Picture tab in the Format Object dialog box (Format menu, Object command).
Applies to:
PowerPoint 2003