[K12OSN] Writing Math Equations

Ben Nickell twinprism at athena.physics.isu.edu
Thu Jan 26 18:23:39 UTC 2006

I support a Math Dept here we have a very heterogeneous environment,
(windows, Macs,and Linux)   I hate to recommend proprietary solutions,
but in this area they are the easiest to get going that I've found of a
non-technical user.    I have yet to find a good solution I've had time
to train people on and implement, so this is more of a laundry list of
apps.  These are all opinions, and I've love to be corrected or start
some debate...

MS Word has an equation editor..  (Insert... Object... Equation)  I
don't think I've tried it on OS X version of MS Word, but I'm guessing
it is there.  Big downside is OpenOffice doesn't do the best job opening
these docs with equations correctly on Linux.

    Some of my users prefer MathType.  It is a Word add on, and I'm not
sure if there is a Mac version.  I don't recommend it because the word
documents it creates can't be read without the recipient having MathType
sometimes, so I discourage it. I just use it to make gifs for the web.  

OpenOffice (all platforms)or NeoOffice on Mac also have a equation
editor with the ability to save as MathML
(File.. New.. Formula   OR Insert... Object.. formula)
One downside is that it can't import or export as word equation
objects.  (I don't think, OpenOffice 2 might help this.)  Plus on a Mac
performance is poor for OpenOffice or NeoOffice, doesn't give a good

Other options include... (big learning curve, but worth it)

LaTeX:  already mentioned, many variants, editors, etc.  We use MikTeX
<http://www.miktex.org/> on windows and somewhere I have a start of an
evaluation of various Mac options if you want it I can dig it up.  There
are also commercial programs that have a WYSIWYG editor that produce
LaTex, but they tend to be expensive.  Scientific Word is one I can
think of off the top of my head. 

Advantages of LaTeX include being cross platform, portable, easy to
convert and use other open formats such as PDF and postscript, extremely
extensible, and typesetter quality output.  This is what most serious
mathematicians people use for their thesis or writing books, and many do
their own typesetting. 

MathML <http://www.w3.org/Math/>
I'm sure there are more programs and good web pages out there too.

Sorry for writing a book, but I hope this helps,

Side note...

One cool tutorial site written by a former professor from here:
Unfortunately, it only currently only work in IE with a Math Player
plugin  (Ewwww!), but she has seen the light, but it will require her
having to learn to code everything in XHTML, MathML and SVG.  (There is
that steep learning curve again)  More info here...

David Trask wrote:

>I have a teacher who wants to be able to write math equations that set up
>properly...just like in a textbook...in other words fractions show up as
>one number over another number instead of using forward or back slashes. 
>Anyone know of a way to accomplish this?  Font, program...web site?  She's
>using Mac OS X, but we're open to anything.
>David N. Trask
>Technology Teacher/Director
>Vassalboro Community School
>dtrask at vcsvikings.org
>K12OSN mailing list
>K12OSN at redhat.com
>For more info see <http://www.k12os.org>

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