Symbols and Equation Support in OneNote 2010 Tech Preview

One of the features of Equation Support with OneNote 2010 is the ability to insert specific symbols into a math zone. Strictly speaking, these symbols are just characters in the font used by equations – Cambria Math – so you can use the characters anywhere that font is supported, but in OneNote 2010 we added a gallery to the ribbon to help drill down the specific character you want. This may seem trivial to test and it some ways it was, but every so often someone overlooks the ability to change the default character selection so I thought I would go over that functionality.

If you don’t have OneNote 2010, you can follow along the UI with Word 2007 if you want.

To get the Equation Tools | Design tab to open, create a math zone on the page. The easiest way is to type ALT while pressing the Equal key (ALT+=). The Design tab will pop open.

The Symbols galley is in the middle of the ribbon. The default selections are from “Basic Math.” If you click the drop down arrow which is highlighted in yellow below (our hover behavior, by the way), you can see other classifications of the symbols:


Here are the selections we added:


There are many symbols in here, and testing them was straightforward. Simply select the given symbol from the gallery and ensure it was inserted in the equation correctly. A ribbon test was also easy. When you highlight the symbol, it draws enlarged to make it easier to see, and a tooltip pops up to tell you what the symbol is. Here’s the ribbon UI for the symbol that looks like an eyeball on the Geometry gallery:


It is the “Spherical Angle” character. Looks like an eyeball to me :)

Getting this feature of Equation support implemented was overall a relatively easy task. Well, relatively easy once the ribbon was implemented, the rich edit equation support was exposed, the gallery ported to OneNote, the design of the gallery finalized, tooltips on the ribbon were implemented, etc… There is a lot of groundwork that had to get done before this could work correctly and since I could rely on the partner teams to get their testing completed, I had a relatively simple task of working through this feature.

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,


Comments (15)

  1. Carlos Rivera says:

    Wow!! it looks great! I used to create the equations in another software and then copy as image.

  2. Megan Robertson says:

    I was wondering if there’s any chance OneNote 2010 will work with MathType like most of the rest of Office does?

  3. Guess it would have been good to put in my URL or email, eh?

  4. JohnGuin says:

    I saw a third party addin called mathtype at .  Is that the one you mean?

    I do not know if they will update their tool to work with Office 2010.  Might be worth sending them a mail to ask them.


  5. Jhon says:

    Very exited about the Formula function in onenote.However, I am currently having problems creating formulas in onenote 2010. I have tried ALT (+=) and going to the insert menu & the formula icon is not selectable. I am however able to create formulas in word 2010. Any Idea what could be the problem?  

  6. John says:

    You need to use a OneNote 2010 format notebook.  I suggest creating a new notebook to test out the feature – let me know what you think!

  7. saving custom equations says:

    I noticed in Word 2010 you can add custom equations to the equation gallery, but I cannot find any similar function in OneNote 2010.  I use OneNote for my grad stats courses and really want to be able to just select equations that I've saved to the gallery, while I'm taking notes in OneNote.  Any help would be appreciated.

  8. JohnGuin says:

    This is not a feature we added in OneNote.  The  closest you can get to this is to use autocorrect to build up add frequently used equations.

  9. Bill Rodgers says:

    I have to agree that the ability to save equations to the Equation Gallery is needed. A workaround is to copy and paste the equation into Word and save it to the Gallery there.

    Ironically, you can save an equation to the Equation Gallery from an Outlook email but can't access the Equation gallery in Outlook.

  10. Kem says:


    I'm able to insert an equation and the use ALT+= to turn off the equation, but the font doesn't change back to what it was. It stays in Cambria Math. Is there a way to make it go back to the font I was originally writing in?


  11. John says:

    What happens if you hit the right arrow after toggling math off?  And which font are you using as your default font?

  12. Andrew says:

    How do you add an equation to the equation gallery in OneNote 2010 ? You can do it in Word, but not OneNote.

  13. JohnGuin says:

    Andrew, there is not a way to do this in OneNote.  What I do is add equations to math autocorrect and use that instead.  I'll pass along the request to our design team, though, and thanks for using OneNote.

  14. 2013 onenote says:

    Still no ability to add equations to the gallery. Despite numerous customer requests and the fact that word can already do it.

    Word just stores it in a template. Isn't there some way to access the onenote template mechanism, and add user-defined equations?

  15. John says:

    Correct – we do not have the gallery support for equations.  What I do is use autocorrect to convert some keystrokes to the equations I want, or you could write an addin to mimic this behavior (not trivial, but possible).

    I'll pass this request along, though, so thanks for sending your comment my way.