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How do I type a simple chemical equation in Microsoft Word? I can do subscripts, but long arrows are harder - they do not align with the text. Also, if I want to show a delta above the arrow for heat, I cannot do that. I have tried the Chemistry add-on from Microsoft, but that does not help with equations.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

If you are using MS Word 2007 or newer, use the equation feature. It is designed for math, but works okay for chemistry.

Go to the insert tab.

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Click on the equation button on the far right.

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Type in your equation. Use the buttons in the ribbon to do superscripts and subscripts. The default is to have letters italicized (as variables), so you will want to fix that.

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There are also shortcut commands to render most the common things you want. For example, underscore _ creates a subscript and a caret ^ creates a super script. You have access to a wide range of arrows from a pull down menu, but -> will give you a simple right arrow (although it is not very long). This feature on Word will also accept some (but not all) tex commands for formatting equations.

To get a long arrow, click on the operator but and choose the arrow with the word "yields" written over it under common operator structures.

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Click on the word "yields" and replace it with as many spaces as you need to create an arrow of whatever length you want.

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Finally, finish your equation.

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For older versions of MS Word, go to the insert menu and click on equation, which launches the Equation Editor Program (you can also find this program on your computer by searching for eqnedt.exe), which gives you the same ability to create equations.

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Even though your question has already been answered (and this is not an alternative answer), but if you're open to it, switching from Word to LaTeX with the chemmacros package (PDF) will benefit you greatly in the long run.

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Agreed. In the end, if you plan to do a lot of chemistry (and/or math), learning to use LaTex will be worth the effort. –  Ben Norris Nov 9 '12 at 23:11
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If you're new to LaTeX, why not try an online compiler such as WriteLaTeX.com? We've added an example chemistry presentation to help new users get started (I'm one of the developers at writeLaTeX - any feedback is much appreciated, thanks). Hope this helps! –  John Hammersley Feb 8 '13 at 14:40

Frequently the best solution is to draw the equation in a chemical drawing software (there are several freeware options) and paste it in as a graphic to Word.

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Answer mentioned above is correct but there is a also shortcut builtin which is math auto correct. It is much like LaTeX. By default its inactive but you can activate it and is really helpful if you want to write big equations. For eg if you want to type H2 than you just have to type H_2 etc and many more options are available like for superscript character following caret (^) sign will be converted as superscript. Many such shortcuts are covered in this video or you can simply search for How to insert mathematical equation (like LaTeX) in Ms-Office: Tips and tricks on youtube. This method will be especially helpful if you are a fast at typing. Moreover it will save your time which is lost while switching between keyboard and mouse and searching proper option in word.

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