Mobility

Create graphs and complex math equations directly from the Google Docs sidebar with g(Math)

If you're looking for the easiest method of inserting math equations and graphs into your Google Docs, here is the solution for you.

There are times when you simply need to add a bit of math into a document or graph a bit of data. By default, Google Drive doesn't offer either functionality. However, it only requires a bit of poking around the official add ons to find a tool ready to take on that task.

The tool in question is g(Math). Now before you dive into this, assuming it will create simple charts from your spreadsheet data, this particular extension is math-driven and used only for Google Docs. With it you can:

  • Create graphs and complex math directly from the sidebar
  • Use Speech to Math in Chrome
  • Use Handwriting recognition for expression entryUse LaTex commands or prebuilt codes to create math beyond the built-in Equation Editor
  • | Plot points

When you create with g(Math) and insert the equation or graph into the Doc, you are adding an image. That image (.png file) will include an associate link that you can open directly in a browser.

Using g(Math) does require an understanding of math. But anyone needing such a tool should have that prereq met.

Installing g(Math)

As you might expect, since this is a Google Docs add-on, the installation is quite simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Open your Google Drive
  2. Open a new Google Docs document
  3. Click Add-ons | Get add-ons
  4. Locate g(Math)
  5. Hover your cursor over the listing until the +FREE button appears
  6. Click +FREE
  7. When prompted, click Accept

You are now ready to use g(Math).

Usage

If you click Add-ons | g(Math) you'll see a submenu that allows you to select from the various options available (Figure A).

Figure A

gmatha.png
The g(Math) menu in action.
Image: Jack Wallen

Let's add a math expression to our document. Here's how:

  1. Click Add-ons | g(Math) | Create math expression
  2. When the g(Math) sidebar opens (Figure B) scroll down to Prebuilt formatting and expressions
  3. Click on the elements needed to create your formula
  4. Scroll up to the LaTex window and edit the formula as needed
  5. Once the formula perfectly meets your needs, place your cursor in the document (where you want the formula), and click the Insert button

Figure B

gmathb.png
The g(Math) sidebar.
Image: Jack Wallen

The formula will appear in the document (Figure C).

Figure C

gmathc.png
Formula added from g(Math).
Image: Jack Wallen

If the size is incorrect, you can click on the image and, using the drag handles, resize as needed. The only caveat to resizing is that, most likely, the image will pixelate. If you find the image too small, delete the image (select it and click Delete on your keyboard), go back to the sidebar and increase the size by entering the width in pixels. Using this method will increase the size, but understand if you go too large the image will still pixelate a bit.

You can also use the "Speech to Math" feature. This will translate (and quite well I might add) what you speak into math equations. To use this you will need a mic (of course) that works with Google Now in your browser. With this requirement met, all you have to do is click the mic button in the Speech to Math section and then speak the necessary math. When finished, click the mic button again to stop the Speech to Match engine.

I have found, using the Speech to Math feature, it necessary to add custom replacements. For example, when trying to add division the word "divided" always comes up as English text. 12 divided by 2 doesn't help much for a formula. To get around this, scroll down to the Custom Replacements section and enter divided in the Spoken text area and / as its replacement. Once you've done that, the Speech to Math feature will translate the word divided into the "/" operative.

If you're looking for the easiest means of inserting math and graphs into your Google Docs, look no further than g(Math).

Have you found Google Docs to be missing features? If so, what feature (or add-on) would you like to see Google bring to life?

See also:

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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