Using math symbols in openoffice

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In this short article, we will see a short introduction on using math symbols in open office, the motivation comes from the fact that when publishing articles involving math formulae, equations and other functions (like derivatives and integration), its rather convenient to publish them in a form similar to the way we write math functions using the real symbols, this will also improve the readability of those articles which otherwise will be very tedious to interpret when represented with arithmetic operators.

Before publishing articles involving math symbols, one must first know how to use math symbols in openoffice which will be dealt here.

1. Creating math symbols in openoffice, specifying the size of the math symbols
2. Editing math symbols

1. Creating math symbols in openoffice, specifying the size of the math symbols

Lets keep it simple here, we will take a simple compound interest formula, interestingly this comes from my last article involving compound interest, where

FV = P * (1 + r/m) ^ (n * m)


P = Principal (Present value)
r = Interest rate
m = number of compounding periods in an year
n = number of years
FV = Future value (growth)

We need to convert the above expression into the math symbol shown below.

Sample openoffice document with math symbols: math_symbols.odt

Step 1: Type the expression inside the braces, specifying the size, for example if we want to use a medium size for the math formula, then use a size between 3 - 4.

Example: size * 3.2 {Math formula}

For the compound interest formula, this becomes

size * 3.2 { FV = P * (1 + r/m) ^ (n * m) }

Type the above expression in openoffice.

Step 2: Produce the equivalent math symbol

Select the above expression then Insert -> Object -> Formula

Fig 1: Using math symbols in openoffice

As simple as that, your math symbol is ready in two steps.

2. Editing math symbols: After step 2, which generates your math symbol, double click the math symbol box, it would open a text box below where you can edit your math expression.

Fig 2: Editing math symbols in openoffice

Detailed Reference:

1. (Has several user guides in PDF format, search with math keyword to find the relevant articles related to using math symbols in openoffice).

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