Software

Office challenge: Why won't Word print the right mathematical symbols?

Word's Equation Editor does a good job of displaying mathematical symbols, but that information doesn't always transfer correctly to the printer. What to do when the screen says one thing and the printout another?

Most users never need Word's Equation Editor, a powerful feature that uses Unicode character codes and Math AutoCorrect to replace text with mathematical symbols. Occasionally, the symbols don't print properly. Word displays the correct characters on screen, but instead of printing the mathematical symbol, Word prints an oddball wingding-looking character. What's wrong and how would you fix the problem?

Last week we asked…

Why can't I use Excel's Subtotals feature? Adundon was the first to respond correctly - you can't use the Subtotal feature with a table. In this context, table refers to the new Table feature, which replaces 2003's list feature. Using the Table feature offers a number of efficient and helpful shortcuts, but at a cost. You can't display subtotals using the Subtotal feature. Chramanarao and RRB both suggested this as well. Mvdarend suggested a second possibility: you can't use the Subtotal feature in a shared workbook and that is correct!

There's no workaround for either situation, but at least you'll know how to respond if this happens to one of your users.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

9 comments
mjdstadler
mjdstadler

"Why won't Word print the right mathematical symbols?" A couple of years back while proofing a submission to the FDA - They like things accurate. - I spotted a simple equation that was in error. It was something like "X is greater than or equal to Y" but the symbol shown was 'equals'. (Like "6 ??? 5" printed as "6 = 5". The error stood out, thankfully. "Less than or equal to" presented the same wrong information on paper. A bit of sleuthing showed that the Konica BizHub font codes in firmware made the mistake. I corrected all users' machines to NOT use printer fonts, but Windows fonts instead and the error stopped. But it was printing to PDF that got me on the right thinking path. Testing on HP printers didn't replicate the error; Konicas always messed it up. Fixed!

Histrion2
Histrion2

...is that the printer either can't load the requisite Cambria Math font or had it loaded correctly but the memory's gotten corrupted. Exporting the Word doc to a PDF would probably embed the typeface within the PDF itself, which would solve the problem in either case.

micjackz@aol.com
micjackz@aol.com

Do the math on paper. Make certain the math is correct. Google "how to use special arithmetical and 'special characters' ". Great number (no pun intended) of YouTube solutions and many chuckles along the way. Fewer moving parts as opposed having to learn MS's convoluted solutions for sure. Sorta like remembering how to place accent marks on Euro words..... bookmarked reminders.....Susan, YOU STILL ROCK! Thanks for the challenges as always!

agency
agency

I would copy the equation and then use Paste Special to paste it as a picture.

prashanth.ramakrishnan
prashanth.ramakrishnan

For Word to print symbols and equations properly. You can do one thing. You can save the document as "pdf". Before you print it. Save as->PDF - MS Word 2010. Save as ->PDF - using PDF add in MS Word 2007 or use any third party free software such as PDF READER etc..

Ray Baker
Ray Baker

Instead of placing both question and answer under one title for the Office Challenge, how about keeping them seperate? Office Challenge Question and Office Challenge Answer? I find that I miss some of the more interesting answers because they are hidden under the new question topic. Thanks for the Challenges.

Marguerite13
Marguerite13

I always suggest using .pdf and it always works like a charm. Love that these are available as a format in Word.

ssharkins
ssharkins

...and we said yes! Starting this week, I'll post a solution to the previous challenge and a new challenge, separately! Thanks for the suggestion.