Equations in Word

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Using the Equation Editor

Within MS Word, select Insert→Object and then select Microsoft Equation. This launches the MS Equation Editor:

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From here you can create an equation. Click the items in the menu to format your equation. For example, the
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button allows you to create superscripts and subscripts. Once you are done entering your equation, quit the equation editor. The equation will now appear in your Word document at the cursor location.

Formatting an Equation

MS Word is not good at formatting equations to fit the size and style of your text. Therefore, once you enter an equation, you may need to resize it to look consistent with the text. Tip: when resizing an equation, drag the corner of the equation box to scale the equation. If you drag the side or top/bottom of the box it will stretch the equation.


Try to duplicate the following using MS Word. If necessary, rescale the equation to the appropriate size.

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Numbered Equations

Occasionally, you need to make an equation appear on its own line. Most commonly, the equation is centered on a line, and if it is numbered the number appears right-justified. The following steps represent a general procedure to accomplish this, and will allow for automatic numbering and cross-referencing of equations in MS Word.

  1. On a new line, insert a tab, then insert the equation, then insert another tab.
  2. Choose Insert→Caption, and select Equation as the label type.
  3. Click the New Label button and enter a ( and click OK.
  4. Enter a ) after the caption and push enter.
  5. Select the entire line of text & choose Table→Convert→Convert Text to Table.
  6. Choose 3 columns & click OK.
  7. Choose Format→Borders and Shading and click the none box.
  8. Right-click on the cell containing the formula and choose Cell Alignment→Align Center.
  9. Right-click on the cell containing the label and choose Cell Alignment→Align Center Right.

This procedure is based on a Microsoft article.

Note that step 3 only needs to be done once per document. After it has been done once


Apply the above procedure to the previous example to obtain the following:

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Creating Cross References

Using the procedure outlined above, we have created labels (numbering) for our equation. Now we can insert a cross-reference. This is very useful when editing a document that has several equations, and is particularly useful when a new equation is inserted that may change the numbering. Using cross-references will automatically renumber your equations.

Choose Insert→Cross-Reference and select the equation from the dialogue box that you want to reference. Then select Insert to complete the cross reference.


Insert another equation as shown below before the methane combustion equation we had previously. Add cross-references as shown. Note that the CH4+2O2 equation is automatically renumbered. Cross-references will be similarly renumbered.

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