Book on Technical Writing in Word


There’s a new Microsoft Press book on creating technical documents in Word, entitled Creating Research and Scientific Documents using Microsoft Word. Alexander Mamishev, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, is the primary author and I wrote most of Chapter 6 on equations. The book emphasizes the utility of Word templates in streamlining the preparation of technical documents. Such documents contain headings, figures, tables, equations, citations and cross references. Moreover they often have to match a particular publisher’s preferences. The book contains a wealth of ideas to aid in creating these documents as well as whole books.

Nontechnical documents and books often use of subset of these features, so the book is handy for preparation in Word of other kinds of documents as well. For example, if you want to know how to manipulate styles, headings, tables, and figures in Word, most of the relevant methodologies are covered. Cool tips are included such as noting that the hot key shift+F1 reveals all the formatting of the current selection.

Chapter 6 on equations contains much of the content of my math posts to the Math in Office blog. The chapter is easier to read than the individual posts, since the chapter is organized in a logical fashion, whereas the posts appear in a somewhat random order. So the chapter is a useful guide to creating and modifying equations using the built-in Office equation facility. The chapter also describes some of the features of MathType, an add-in program with powerful math facilities.

I have noticed typos in the book, such as failing to italicize some mathematical variables. If you spot errors, please go to the errata site to see if the error has already been reported. If not, please add a new entry.

The book gives a method for numbering equations complete with cross references. The approach inserts a center tab before the equation and a right tab before the equation number. While this works well for simple equations, there are some problems for more complicated equations as I’ll describe in the next post. That post also gives a way around the problems.

Enjoy!


Comments (10)

  1. davidacoder says:

    Is there any hope left that at some point Word will get native equation numbering?

  2. MurrayS says:

    There's always hope and it's certainly on the wish list. I think the book should help since it explains most of the relevant procedures, e.g., cross referencing equations and optionally including section number prefixes. Coupled with the equation-array equation number placement that I'll explain in the next post, you can have complicated displayed equations with line breaks and general equation numbers.

  3. Kasper Peulen says:

    @MurrayS3 I've been reading:http://www.unicode.org/…/UTN28-PlainTextMath-v3.pdf and there you explain in 3.2.1 that in the linear format "E=mc^2#(30)" should render as a numbered equation. I've tried this, but it doesn't seem to work in Office Word 2013.

  4. MurrayS3 says:

    It's going to work one of these days as I'll explain in my next blog post. It already does work in OneNote 2013. It uses a special feature of the equation array that flushes the text following the # to the right margin

  5. Erik Snell says:

    Am I missing something? I type this into OneNote and no automatic formatting happens.

  6. MurrayS3 says:

    Did you type the Enter key at the end, i.e.,

    E=mc^2#(30)<Enter>

    Works on my copy of OneNote 2013.

  7. AlexM says:

    To davidacoder:  I do not know, maybe one day Word will have "native equation numbering," whatever you may imply by it. However, for a while it will not be backward compatible with previous versions. Also, its been many years without changes. Meanwhile, the Word equation numbering using bookmarks and tabs, as described in the book, does not have any flaws. It gives you everything that LaTeX would you. Such is my opinion and so far noone was able to demonstrate otherwise to me that their equation numbering needs are not satisfied with that approach.

  8. MurrayS3 says:

    The book's equation numbering approach is very good. But it does cause display math zones to use inline math zone typography. This changes the appearance of fractions, n-ary expressions and square roots. The second problem is with equation breaking. The elegant equation breaking available for display math zones is missing. I'll illustrate these things in my next post. But you're certainly right that approaches that fix these things won't look the same in older versions. The book's approach should display the same way for all versions of Word from 2007 on.

  9. BobDuke says:

    Hello,

    Page 1 of the book contains the link http://www.streamtoolsonline.com/htwrp/templates/chapter1.docx, but this website is dead. Entries on the (unconfirmed) errata page indicate that it's dead since October 2013 already. Will this site be up again? When?

    Unfortunately examples.oreilly.com/…/9780735670440_files.zip does not contain chapter1.docx either, nor did web.archive.org help.

    Thanks for some info.

  10. MurrayS says:

    The web site streamtoolsonline.com was overtaken by a cybersquatter due to a payment registration snafu. Please use streamtoolsonline.org. Sorry for the confusion!