Adding Statistical Equations to Word using Microsoft Equation Editor

Have you ever tried to type a complex fraction, like a logit link, using Word, by lining up two rows of type?

Or a regression model equation?  It’s possible, but it takes forever to subscript all those i’s and change the font of all your B’s to β’s.

I used to, and it’s not easy.

What saved me, years ago, is the Microsoft Equation Editor.

I just mentioned it to a client the other day.  She was thrilled at the ease and flexibility of it, so I thought I’d better share this.

So, to insert a beautiful equation into Word, Powerpoint, or whatever Microsoft application you need, simply go to:

Insert–>Object–>Microsoft Equation 3.0 (the exact wording my differ in your version, but it should be close)

An editor window will pop up.  Explore it.  You can easily add fractions, subscripts, even symbols like the little bar over X.

A few caveats

  1. The one statistical notation I have needed and found it unable to do is a Choose function, as in (n choose p).  It looks like a fraction surrounded by parentheses, but without the line in the middle.
  2. One limitation is that you can’t edit the font or font color.  So the black italic Times Roman you get by default doesn’t always look pretty on, say, a Powerpoint slide where all the rest of the text is green Calibri.
  3. Truly the best editor for writing mathematical documents that contain equations is LaTeX.  It does much more than write equations and would be worth learning if you’re doing some heavy-duty statistical writing.  Jeremy Angolin’s Psychology and Statistics blog has a nice explanation of how to get started with LaTeX, along with quite a few resources.

But if, for now, you want to stick with Microsoft products, you’ll find the Equation Editor a BIG help.


Reader Interactions


  1. Chandraprakash Gupta says

    To type statistical or any equation like pro use this method to type like latex in MS Word.
    This is the best thing that I learned that wasting 2–3 hours in learning things useful would have saved days and weeks in writing master thesis and more importantly would have relieved lot of mental stress that I under went just because I didn’t used efficient and smart method to automate most of the process. Please see this

  2. Bob Mathews says

    You guys are talking about 2 different things. Karen’s blog post was talking about “Microsoft Equation 3.0” (AKA “Equation Editor”), which has been in every version of Office since Office 2 — including Office 2010 for Windows and Office 2011 for Macintosh. You can’t change font color in this version of Equation Editor. MathType, Equation Editor’s big brother, has more features, one of which is the ability to change font color of an equation. You can use any font on your computer.

    Joel is talking about the “OMML Equation Editor”, introduced in Office 2007, and is also in Office 2010 and Office 2011. (“OMML” = Office Math Markup Language). You can, as he described, change font color. Changing font is a different story. Joel is correct that you can change fonts, but full functionality (meaning all the math characters, proper spacing, etc.) is limited to Cambria Math and one of a handful of other fonts.

  3. Joel Schneider says

    I didn’t think of it either! I hit Enter within the parentheses accidentally once and saw its effect.

    I am using Word 2007 and I can select text and change the font color in the Home tab on the ribbon (just as I change the font for any other text).

    I also just made a discovery! You can change the font, too!

    On the Design tab that appears whenever you are editing a formula, there is a button on the left called “abc Normal Text.” Pressing it allows you to choose any font but you lose much of the automatic spacing and formatting in the normal mode.

  4. Joel Schneider says

    The “choose” function can be created by inserting the parentheses in the brackets dropdown list. Type “n” then press “Enter” and then type p. It should look like what you are looking for.

    I am able to edit the color of the font but not the font itself.

    • Karen says

      Hi Joel,

      Excellent! I don’t know why I never tried enter within the parentheses. I just tried it and you’re exactly right.

      But I still can’t figure out how to change the color. How do you do that?


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