Improved MathML support in Word 2007

Two very interesting developments are happening that will improve Word 2007’s MathML support. The first is key for helping in getting Word 2007 math text into the scientific and technical publisher workflows and the second may help in this regard too. Specifically new transforms are now available in beta versions enabling Word to read and write MathML. These XSLT files are responsible for converting between Word’s native math format OMML and MathML 2.0. If you’d like to try out the new files (omml2mml.xsl and mml2omml.xsl), you can download them from the Microsoft Connect site using the invitation code: 0707-84P4-DPWT. Once you’ve downloaded the files, copy them to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12 subdirectory, or wherever winword.exe is. Before doing so, you might want to change the current omml2mml.xsl and mml2omml.xsl files to omml2mml.xsl.bak and mml2omml.xsl.bak, respectively, in case you want to back out the update at a later date. But I doubt you will. The new ones are significantly better.


The second development is that Word 2007 will have a service pack release that enables it to read and write the ISO standard odf files as well as the native ISO standard OOXML files. In the odf standard, math zones are represented by MathML 2.0. So when Word converts to and from odf, it will use MathML 2.0 for all math zones. And it will use the files above to do the translations.

Comments (18)
  1. Tim Lauck says:

    Can we get a save to xhtml+mathml2.0  Web page with at least IE+mathplayer and Firefox compatible out of the deal as well?  We need spoken math for accessibility.  

  2. wuhy says:

    I hope the new equation editor can be used in other office component, such as Powerpoint and Onenote in the upcoming sevice pack.

  3. Bob Sutor says:

    To clarify, are you saying the service pack will include the flavor of OOXML that just went through the ISO process (that is, DIS 29500) or it will support the version of OOXML that Office 2007 has supported from the beginning?


  4. davidacoder says:

    It is great to see this. I love the new equation editor, but still cannot use it for my writing because it seems publishers are still not accepting it. Improved MathML support seems key here. Here come some further ideas for making the new equation stuff usable in the real scientific world:

    – Have a look at the current MathType version, they have all sorts of commands to output all equations in a document in different formats. E.g. you can save them as images, MathML, TeX etc. Something simliar would probably help a lot for Word: Simply the option to take a docx file, run a command line program that takes in the docx and spits out a file for every equation in the document, where you can choose between different formats for the output

    – Have the same as commands in Word

    – Or maybe you could add a MathML representation of every question in the docx container? You already save an image representation for downlevel clients, right? Why not just add a simple read only copy in MathML of every equation? Third party DTP programs could then simply extract that from the docx file when reading that, without the need to have knowledge of Word’s equation format

    Just a few thoughts. I guess you could argue that all of these could be provided by third parties, but the sad truth is that 1.5 years after the release nothing like that has happened, and unless you guys go proactive and enable intregration of the new equations into journal publishing pipelines, scientists are stuck with the dilemma that the love the editor, but no one accepts papers written with it for publishing, which is really a shame.



  5. JQ says:

    Like David, I like OMML, particularly the linearization.  I didn’t realize it existed until  _Unicode Nearly Plain-Text Encoding of Mathematics_ was mentioned at

    I downloaded the revised XSLTs and they seem to work nicely — I get reasonable MathML in the clipboard when I copy an OMML equation.  But I don’t quite see how this solves the key problem — that Science and Nature won’t accept .DOCX files and won’t accept OMML saved as .DOC since they can’t typeset images.  Are there simple instructions for how to start with a document that contains lots of OMML and produce a file that the publisher will accept?

    (PS:  assume I don’t have MathType, so can’t just paste each MathML object into Mathtype and regenerate the equations, or that I have so many equations that manual copy&paste isn’t feasible)

  6. This really is good news.

    I have just finished a physics textbook using Word 2003 format and Mathtype and found the combination unsuitable for large projects. Inline math makes much more sense. Microsoft should be complemented on its innovations in this area. Treating hundreds of equations per chapter as images is so Twentieth Century. It makes it impossible to make systematic searches and changes in the equations. I would have already switched to the new Word 2007 equation editor if my publisher had been able to use it.

    In general, I really like the improvements made in the 2007 version of Word. Here is my personal, idiosyncratic, wish list for future upgrades:

    1) Built-in equation numbering. The use of tables to insert equation numbers is awkward. It runs counter to the spirit of the equation builder. Equations should be part of the paragraph flow.

    2) Better paragraph-level justification, like that available for Latex. Word is not keeping up with expectations in this area. I realize that Word is not intended to be a publication layout program, but many people use it to prepare simple brochures and reports.

    3) Improved support for style sheets.

    4) Improved support for the sectioning and integration of large documents.

    5) Better integration of the drawing package into Word. I found that I could do more with it in PowerPoint than in Word.

    6) The support of scientific graphs by Excel and the ability to annotate them with drawing tools would be  huge from the point of view of the scientific and technical book market.

  7. I like the new equation editor. However, it needs some urgent attention so that if one converts professional -> linear -> professional the equation is kept the same. At the moment, it is possible to produce mathematically different expressions by doing this!

  8. vii says:

    This is kind of late, but will ISO OOXML be the default file format for Office 2007 after the service pack is released or will it be the default only for Office 14?

  9. Jeff Cogswell says:


    If you’re still checking messages for this blog posting, I’m curious — when exactly does Word 2007 convert equations to MathML? I wrote a small .NET program that shows me the formats that are on the clipboard, and I see that if I copy an equation to the clipboard it’s in multiple formats, including MathML. So that would be one time Word converts to MathML. But are there other times?


  10. Nancy Alder says:

    I am writing a math book. I am writing it in Word 2007. I was planning to prepare it for printing myself in Word 2007. I will have pages and pages of equations – not formulas – which I want to create and then simply edit with different numbers since these will serve as examples for students’ usage. I haven’t purchased the sp2 update because I wasn’t sure if it would add any benefit. Am I to understand that publishers won’t take a wp document with equations in it using the math program on Word 2007? By the way, is the math program in Word 2007 MathType 6? If not, what is it? And what should I use for my manuscript?

    Thank you for your help.

  11. MurrayS3 says:

    If you produce camera ready copy, your copy is the master from which the publisher produces the book so you have total control. If your files are going to be converted to another format for typesetting bya different program, then it’s worth checking with your prospective publisher to see if it can the handle Word 2007 equation format. It’s different from MathType 6, although progress has been made in converting to MathType 6. The infrastructure for handling MathType 6 has been in place for a while.

    The sp2 update does improve the conversion of math zones to MathML, which is the industry standard. So it’s worth installing. Does it cost something (guess I should know :-)) Please feel free to email me directly if you need more help.

    Hope this helps.

  12. Nancy Alder says:

    Gee, I was so surprised to get an answer to my question . . . and so fast. Thank you! I am a MAC user and new to Word, and very new to the math programs. However, I installed MathType 6 and tried to use it with MAC Word, and it was a complete bust. So I have installed bootcamp and am learning Word all for the purpose of putting this book together. Ideally, I would like to prepare the book as a master, but, if necessary, be capable of converting to another format for typesetting should I fall short of my goal. Since publishing is a long way off right now, I have no idea who or if I will use one. Is there no way to cover my bases now just in case I end up using a publisher? Will MathType 6 do the trick or what about MathML – can’t I download that to work with Word 2007? I like the way MathType 6 worked except I couldn’t edit my equations for insertion into my document (not on the MAC).

    Thank you for your help and patience with this. I feel I’m in over my head at this point, but forever hopeful that there must be a solution. It would help if I was a techie….I will be before I’m finished probably.

  13. MurrayS3 says:

    I’m not an expert on MathType, but I know it does work well with various publisher workflows. and is conversant with MathML.

  14. Bob Mathews says:

    Nancy, you mentioned that trying to use MathType with Word for Mac "was a complete bust", and that you couldn’t edit the equations in your document on the Mac. I’d like to help you be able to use the "pages and pages of equations" that you mention, but rather than hijack Murray’s blog with lengthy discussions about MathType, if you’d write me privately, I’d be glad to help you get it to work. MathType works very well both for Windows and Macintosh versions of Word, so the problem is very likely something simple that we can tackle fairly easily. Like Murray mentioned, it also works with MathML, so if that’s the best direction for you to go, we could discuss that too.

    Bob Mathews

    Design Science

    bobm at dessci dot com

  15. Sebastian says:

    Hi Murray,

    What ist the license of omml2mml.xsl? Is it the Office 2007 EULA, or is it possible to include this style sheet in other projects (like genereation of OOXML-Documents from DocBook etc.)?



  16. Jeff Tibbetts says:

    Has there been any resolution to the issue of saving the equation as some sort of image from the native equation editor/ribbon in Microsoft Word 2007? I see that if I use the insert object, using equation editor that a .wmf is included in the .docx. Couldn’t the same be done using the native Word 2007 ribbon capability? I would prefer to use the mathml, but unfortunately, I am not confident that it will render for our users in thier (potentially) antiquated browsers.

  17. Saf says:

    Using VBA or VSTO or some other.NET program , how can we get the MathML format of a math equation in Word 2007/2010? Thanks.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content