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Microsoft Excel - Write, insert, or change an equation

Office has equations that you can readily insert into your documents. If the Office built-in equations don’t meet your needs, you can edit, change the existing equation, or write your own equation from scratch.

Insert built-in equation

  • Choose Insert > Equation and choose the equation you want from the gallery.

    Insert equation

  • After you insert the equation the Equation Tools Design tab opens with symbols and structures that can be added to your equation.

Write new equation
To type an equation from scratch, press Alt += on your keyboard.


Choose Insert > Equation and select Insert New equation from the bottom of the built in equation gallery. This inserts an equation placeholder where you can type your equation.

Add an equation to the equation gallery

  1. Select the equation you want to add.

  2. Choose the down arrow and select Save as New Equation....

  3. Type a name for the equation in the Create New Building Block dialog.

  4. Select Equationsin the gallery list.

  5. Choose OK.

Edit equations

To change or edit an equation that was previously written,

  1. Select the equation to see Equation Tools in the ribbon.

    Equation Tools

    Note: If you don't see the Equation Tools, the equation may have been created in an older version of Word. 

  2. Choose Design to see tools for adding various elements to your equation. You can add or change the following elements to your equation.

    • In the Symbols group, you’ll find math related symbols. To see all the symbols, click the More button. Button image To see other sets of symbols, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the gallery.

      Basic Math symbols

    • The Structures group provides structures you can insert. Just choose a structure to insert it and then replace the placeholders, the small dotted-line boxes, with your own values.

      Radical math structures

    • The Professional option displays the equation in a professional format optimized for display. The Linear option displays the equation as a source text, which can be used to make changes to the equation if needed. The linear option will display the equation in either UnicodeMath format, or LaTeX format, which can be set in the Conversions chunk. 

      Convert equation format
    • It is possible to convert all equations in a document to the Professional or Linear formats, or a single equation only, if the math zone is selected or the cursor is in the equation.  

      Equation All Linear

For more information, please visit the Excel help center.

If you have any questions, come by the Help Desk at Hardman & Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center Room 105, call 646-1840, or email us at

Keywords:microsoft excel write insert change equation   Doc ID:75307
Owner:John B.Group:New Mexico State University
Created:2017-08-04 12:02 MDTUpdated:2018-01-12 11:20 MDT
Sites:New Mexico State University
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