I recently discovered that some colleagues are unaware of the math typesetting capabilities in PowerPoint, and so as a responsible Microsoft employee I thought it my duty to inform the public of these potentially time-saving and slides-beautifying features. This is also for my own benefit, as I seem to always forget where to find the documentation for these when I look for it.
It used to be that even something as simple as adding a “tilde” or “hat” symbol on top of a letter was nearly impossible in PowerPoint, and the things that were possible required a large number of mouse clicks and menu choices. But things have dramatically improved with the recent versions of PowerPoint (e.g., PowerPoint 2010 and later on a PC, not sure what’s the Mac situation). In fact, all Office programs now have an equation editor that allows to do nearly anything we can do in LaTeX, and using nearly the same keyboard shortcuts (a fact that can come in handy if you want to send someone a techincal email and have access to Outlook). Thus you can type something like “\doubleE \tilde f^4(x) \preceq 9^d ( \doubleE \tilde f(x)^2 )^2″ to get something like
The keyboard shortcut for that equation editor is, as the post title’s suggests, Alt+=.
The following document by Thomas Co contains a fairly complete manual of all the shortcuts and symbols (see also this cheatsheet I came upon through this post). If that whet your appetite for more, Murray Sargent’s blog should give you enough reading material to waste an afternoon or two becoming an Office math master. Murray and Alex Mamishev are writing a book on the topic, but in the mean time, you may find Chapter 3 in Alex’s book useful as well.
If you have any more PowerPoint tips, feel free to share them in the comment section below. In particular, an alternative equation editor is MathType, which I never used, and I’d be interested to hear of people’s experiences with it. MathType can work not only with Microsoft Office but also an impressive number of other applications, including gmail (though gmail users might also want to look into GmailTeX).
And of course, none of this is meant to disparage any other editors or presentation software, just to provide some information I wish someone told me a couple of years ago..