Math in Google Docs with Built-in “Equation Editor”

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am keen to provide learners with options for doing math work in a word processor. I believe this is essential for anyone who finds it difficult to use pencil and paper. So, this morning I was delighted to see a tweet by @njtechteacher (Ann Oro) mentioning that Google Docs has a built in equation editor.


Equation Editor in Google Docs means that anyone with a computer that can go online is able to do his or her math work in a word processor. The built in equation editor is easy to use, and offers a convenient way of inserting mathematical notation and maths symbols into a document. Perhaps the only thing that would make this equation editor more useful would be keyboard shortcuts for each of the symbols.

In a Google document, the equation editor is accessed by clicking on the Insert menu in a document and then selecting Equation.

This will open the toolbar shown below. Click on New equation to get started and then select from one of the palettes of symbols to obtain whatever notation is required.


 UPDATE: It is helpful to be aware that the ‘Enter’ key is literally the key to using this equation editor. For example, after selecting the notation for fractions, for seven eighths you type 7 followed by ‘Enter’, then type 8 followed by ‘Enter’.

9 thoughts on “Math in Google Docs with Built-in “Equation Editor”

  1. I am always surprised to walk into “1:1″ schools and discover that no one who teaches math knows about equation editor in Microsoft Word, Open Office, or Google Docs. And how many kids are still beaten up about handwriting the equations or the operations when these free simple tools along with GraphCalc or other downloadable graphing calculators which will let you record and copy/paste all of your work, or even online calculators including the graphing calculator toolbar for Firefox. Also, don’t forget the Firemath add in for Firefox which allows you to work math and scientific notation anywhere you work online.

  2. Thanks for the nice write up of the tool, Paul. I’ll point it out to the teacher who asked me how to do equations in Google Docs. I hadn’t heard about the Firemath add-in, Ira. I’ll have to give that a try, too.

  3. good to know, do we have a language translator too, i have a couple of old scripts trying to decode it… please advice

  4. [npte: comment box will not accept "http" so links might need to be pasted into address bar]
    For FireMath (including instructions, etc)
    For GraphCalc (PC-Only) which allows easy copy/paste of anything in the calculator window into any Word Doc format
    For SpeedCrunch PC. Linux, MacOS) another downloadable on-screen calculator
    For Chrome, try the LaTeX editor
    And for Physics calculators, there are great ones built into Periodic Table Explorer

    See Video Supports at

  5. Nice!

    Thanks for highlighting that, Paul.

    I am (pleasantly) surprised to see Google incorporate so many powerful features in its free products. Even the ability to produce graphs from its main page was kept pretty low-key:

    But I am not complaining!

  6. Pingback: Smart Spell Checker in Google Docs Provides Awesome Support | Free Resources from the Net for EVERY Learner

  7. I wrote up a paper in Google Docs with equations, but when I got to print it or make it a PDF, the equations are mostly gone (other than random =, +, and the like).

    Any advice?

  8. Hi Mark. This is extremely unfortunate, and I’m afraid I don’t have any advice. The best I have to offer is to suggest you might consider taking screenshots of your pages. I use the free tool MWSnap on my PC to create pdf images of whatever I want to on my computer screen. I do hope the people at Google take care of this serious glitch! –Paul

  9. Is anyone else having trouble printing google docs with equations? I seem to randomly loose characters between my computer and the printer? I have seen others ask the question, but haven’t seen any work arounds or fixes yet?

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