MathType 6.5 – Equations Anywhere

Dec 9, 2008 by

Design Science has just released MathType 6.5, which should give quite a bit of improvement to dealing with equations in Word if you are a traditional LaTeX user and you need to use Word. With this upgrade, you’ll be able to type LaTex directly in to Word and the text string will be converted to a MathType equation.

Another new focus with MathType 6.5 is the Equations Everywhere and Anywhere functionality that they’ve been working on. To summarize, Design Science thinks you should be able to port equations into any platform that you desire (I wholeheartedly agree). You can browse the link to the compatibility matrix to see how to move your equations to other platforms.

The compatibility of MathType with Moodle (through TeX) and with heavyweight math programs like Maple and Mathematica (both achieved through MathML) looks fairly good and easy to use.

Despite the commendable effort by Design Science to get our equations everywhere, there are still gaps in the portability of equations to all programs, and MathType’s compatibility with programs like Blackboard and Flash is still through the use of GIF or EPS files. Honestly, I’ve gotten most of the compatibility I need between MathType and Internet applications (Google, Blackboard, and WebAssign) by just using Jing with MathType to do a quickie image call.

After reading the lengthy descriptions for importing MathType equations via GIF on several software packages, I found myself wondering why MathType just doesn’t create their own version of Jing called Ming. If compatibility is achieved through small GIF files, then why not just make a little desktop application that helps you to quickly create small image files of equations? I would guess that I would use Ming (if it existed) as often as I use Jing (especially since roughly 50% of my Jing files are little image files of equations).

There is one feature of MathType 6.5 which I am truly excited about, and that is the ability to open a new equation or to edit an existing equation without picking up your mouse. This is something I’ve been doing for years with a macro in Word (follow the links for instructions in XP or Vista), but it is always difficult to go through the explanation of how to install a macro. So, in MathType 6.5, you can use the following commands (macros in Word, installed by MathType 6.5) to make your life a little easier:

Now, if you’re like me, the first thing you want to do with a new program is alter the keyboard shortcuts. Personally, I use Ctrl-E to open (and close) equations, and I’d like to use Ctrl-O to open an existing equation. To change these keyboard shortcuts, you have to go into the macro keyboard customization in Word. I could write an explanation for how to do it, but it would be easier to just show you.

This brings me to my final point. Why the heck aren’t there tutorial videos? I use MathType, my students use MathType, and my colleagues use MathType. But if I want to show someone else a tutorial on using MathType, I will have to create it myself, because there are no video tutorials on MathType on the Design Science website. If I search for LaTeX tutorial videos I will find many on the Internet, but if I do the same search for MathType tutorial videos I only find the ones that I’ve made. Come on guys, I love MathType and I truly couldn’t live without it – but it’s now time to join Web 2.0!

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