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MS Word: a Little More Keyboard and a Little Less Mouse

If you’ve ever created an equation in MS Word then you’ve definitely used the Equation Tools Design tab.


It’s got lots of great stuff in it… much more than many people would ever use… of course, that would also be why there’s such a necessity for the mouse when creating your equations.

Actually, if you know a few keystrokes that correspond to a couple of the more common equation elements then maybe we could reduce our mouse and work time.

Sounds like a good plan to me so here’s the scoop.

Once you’ve started an equation you can type the following keys and Word will interpret them as equation elements.

For example, if you want a fraction like this:


then type 1/2 into an equation placeholder.

Word will convert it to the vertical fraction format automatically.

Use parentheses to separate numerator and denominator around the / mark to create large fractions like this one:

(x^2+5)/(x-4) becomes


Here’s a few more of the basics:

^ formats what directly follows as a superscript

_ (underscore) is used to indicate that what follows is a superscript

>= for greater than or equal to

<= for less than or equal to

+- will insert the plus or minus symbol

Oh… and here’s a great one… to start the equation editor without the Insert tab stuff just use Alt + =.

Well, you get the picture. These are just some of the basic elements you may need and there’s certainly a whole lot more that you can do with your keyboard when creating equations in MS Word. Some of it may require some experimentation but once you’ve found it life can certainly be much easier!

~ April