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Windows 7 hints and tips

Use the Math Input Panel to enter equations

There are lots of new features in Windows 7 and one that could be useful to students and scientific users is the Math Input Panel. It is a gadget that is designed to help you to enter complex mathematical equations. Some word processors have this ability and they are essential to some people, but not all programs have equation editors and their features and ease of use varies a great deal.

To solve the problem, Microsoft has included an accessory called Math Input Panel in Windows 7. Recognising mathematical equations is now part of the operating system. To run it you click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Math Input Panel. Alternatively, click Start, type in Math and then click the program to run it.

The large yellow area is where you enter equations and the program's interpretation of what you have entered is shown in the white panel above. (Until you have entered something you won't see the white panel.

Windows 7 Math Input Panel

The equation in the screen shot was entered using the mouse, but writing on the screen with a mouse isn't easy and the program occasionally makes mistakes and can't read your writing. A tablet PC would help because then you can write directly on the screen using a pen. A graphics tablet would be another good way to enter equations too.

If the input isn't recognised you can clear the whole lot and start again or just clear individual strokes and redraw them. The Select and Correct feature is cool and you can circle something that wasn't recognised using the mouse or a tablet pen and then select an alternative symbol from a drop-down list.

The equation can be copied and inserted into any program, such as a word processor, that supports Mathematical Markup Language.

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