The Mathematics Toolbar The Mathematics Toolbar in « College » mode

The Mathematics Toolbar consists in a Microsoft Word template document (files with extension « .dot ») displaying a special command bar to the user. With the various buttons offered, the user can then create mathematical formula. Advanced users can also type in formulas without using any command bar button, but this is another story.


Unlike with the Equation Editor shipped with Microsoft Word, with which the user can create a formula while seeing directly how it will be rendered (something called WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get), the Mathematics Toolbar doesn't render things at write time, but afterwards, i.e. once your formula is complete.

This behavior can be considered odd from a first look, but it presents many advantages, such as the following:

With time passing (say 15 minutes or so), you'll appreciate this behavior which has been inspired from other powerful mathematical tools used in Unix world such as LaTeX.

Anyway, to be simple, you do the following steps when writing the formula:

  1. you write the formula in your document, using tokens for special functions (such as a limit, a sum, or a fraction)
  2. you render the formula by clicking on the « Render » button
  3. you can reedit the formula by clicking on the « Original » button
Note: When rendering takes place, all attributes such as the font, font weight or color are kept, except for the font size attribute which is overwritten by the font size specified in the Mathematics Toolbar. This way, this enables the Mathematics Toolbar to do proper sizing, for example when using indices or exponents.

If you want to change the font size of all the formula in the document, you change it in the Mathematics Toolbar, then click on the « Re-render document » button.


The following table shows the increase in productivity when writing useful formula with the Mathematics Toolbar compared to with the Equation Editor shipped with Microsoft Word.

Rendered formulaFormula as typed inTime requiredTime required when using the Equation Editor
A square root formula\r{(x+1)^2+(y+1)^2}=210 seconds30 seconds
A complicated fraction\f{1; 1+\f{1; 1+\f{1; 1+\f{1; x}}}}=?17 seconds1 minute
A 5 lines system\s{2x+y=3; x-y>=3; \f{1;x}+\r{y}=2;
2x-5=6; x-x*y<>0}
27 seconds> 2 minutes
The sum of the angles of a triangle\a{B}+\a{C}+\a{A}=180°12 secondsnot writable

Getting started


In order to be able to use the Mathematics Toolbar, you need to proceed to the following:

  1. You must permit the execution of macros. In menu Tools, then Macros, then Security, go to the second tab and make sure to check the box Trust Visual Basic Project (or something similar)
  2. You first need to install it to a special location so that it will be automatically loaded by Microsoft Word on its startup. Usually, this location is C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\Startup. To be sure, just open the template document, it should tell you where to copy it.
  3. Verify that the template is a global template. To do so, in the « Tools » menu, click on « Templates and addons » (or something similar, I don't have Word in English), then verify that the checkbox for the template is effectively checked.
  4. You must then restart Microsoft Word. If everything went right, you should have a new button called Maths in the standard command bar.
Note: In case you decide to customize some features, such as changing the language or hiding the « College » buttons, Microsoft Word will popup a window saying that the project is signed and hence the project signature will get invalidated. Just ignore this message (this message comes from the fact that the Mathematics Toolbar saves the user preference in its file directly and hence breaks the signature used when I created the document).

Writing your first formula

In this example, we will write a formula containing fractions. The last term of the formula will be outlined because it's a result and we want to make it visible.

Say the rendered formula should be:

The rendered formula

  1. First, click on the « Maths » button in the Standard Toolbar. This should show the Mathematics Toolbar. The « Maths » button
  2. Then, click on the « Fraction » button on the Mathematics Toolbar. This should insert the token \f{;}. The « Fraction » button
  3. Type 1 (the numerator) in the first field ot the token, then 3 (the denominator) in the second field.
  4. Put the cursor after the brace bracket }, then type +.
  5. Click on the « Fraction » button again and type 1 and 4 in the respective fields.
  6. Put the cursor after the brace bracket }, type the equal sign, and continue the work until you reach the last equal term.
  7. We want the last term to be outlined, so that it gets more visible. To do so, click on the « Box » button, then write the last fraction. The « Box » button
  8. You are almost done. You just then need to select the entire formula using the keyboard or your mouse and press the « Render » button. If something went wrong, don't worry, the Mathematics Toolbar should tell you where you made a mistake. The « Render » button
  9. Say you are not satisfied with your formula. You can reedit it by selecting it, then by clicking on the « Original » button. The « Original » button

Description of supported tokens

A token can be defined as a combination of letters with a special meaning to the Mathematics Toolbar. Usually, a token is like the following:

There are two exceptions. The Exposure and Indice tokens do not have the backslash character and the word is replaced by ^ (hat) and _ (underscore) respectively.

The following table describes the currently supported tokens. If some tokens do not meet your needs, please tell me and I'll add the requested ones.

\box{}Box (outline)\box{some words}
\abs{}Absolute Value\abs{x}
\f{;}Fraction; 2 arguments\f{2;3}
\r{}Square root\r{x}
^{}Exposure; you can omit the brackets if the argument is simple, such as a number for examplex^2 + x^{x+y}
_{}Indice; you can omit the brackets if the argument is simple, such as a number for examplex_0 = 1
\l{;...;}Stacked lines; 1 argument per line; 2 arguments or more\l{x + y = 3; x - y = 2}
\s{;...;}System; 1 argument per line; 2 arguments or more\s{x + y = 3; x - y = 2}
\r{;}(College only) N Root; first argument is N; second argument is expression\r{3;x}
\lim{;}(College only) Limit\lim{x->0;ln(x)}
\fmin{;;}(College only) Generic function with index\fmin{min;x€[0;1];x^2-x}
\fmax{;;}(College only) Generic function with exposure 
\fminmax{;;;}(College only) Generic function with index and exposure\fminmax{some symbol;i=1;n;x^i-x}
\sum{;;}(College only) Sum\sum{i=0;n;x^i}
\prod{;;}(College only) Product\prod{i=0;n;i^2}
\int{;;}(College only) Integral\int{0;1;x}
\inter{;;}(College only) Intersection\inter{i=0;n;A_i}
\union{;;}(College only) Union\union{i=0;n;A_i}
\detX{;...;}(College only) Determinant; X is the number of columns; number of lines is deducted from number of arguments\det2{1;2;3;4;5;6}
\matX{;...;}(College only) Matrix; X is the number of columns; number of lines is deducted from number of arguments\mat2{1;2;3;4;5;6}
\open{;}(College only) Range opened left and right\open{0;1}
\close{;}(College only) Range closed left and right\close{0;1}
\openl{;}(College only) Range opened left and closed right\openl{0;1}
\openr{;}(College only) Range closed left and opened right\openr{0;1}
<>Operator Differ1 <> 2
~=Operator About Equal1.0001 ~= 1
<=Operator Less or Equalx <= 2
>=Operator Greater or Equalx >= 2
<=>Operator Equivalentx^2=0 <=> x=0
=>Operator Impliesx^3=1 => x=1
->Operator Arrow (for limits)\lim{x->0;ln(x)}
|->Operator Associate (for alternate function definitions)f:x|->x^2