Learn@UW - Using the Equation Editor

This document describes how to use the equation editor.

General Instructions
Entering an Equation
Editing an Existing Equation
Equation Editor Buttons


General Instructions

The equation editor is embedded in the HTML editor that is available in a variety of tools where editing is done. The HTML editor is invoked whenever you open the document (e.g., course topic, discussion post, or news item) for editing.

There are three available methods of input for equations: the Graphical Editor, LaTeX, and MathML

  • Graphical Editor
    The Graphical Editor enables you to visually create your mathematical equations. This straightforward input method allows for quick creation of equations. The way your equation looks when you are creating it is the same way your equation displays to other users.

  • LaTeX
    LaTeX is a document typesetting language that provides a text syntax for mathematical formulas.  You enter an equation in LaTeX format.

  • MathML
    MathML is an internet standard adopted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for the storage and display of mathematical equations. It uses XML to describe mathematical notation by capturing its structure and content.  You enter an equation as MathML commands.

To use the equation editor in the HTML editor, do the following:

  1. Place the cursor in the document where you want to insert an equation.

  2. Select the 'Graphical Equation' icon ( Sigma ) in the tool bar to open the Graphical Editor or select the method of your choice from the drop-down by this icon.

    Insert Equation

  3. Enter your equation according to the input method as described in the section on Entering an Equation below.

  4. Press the Insert button in the lower right corner to insert the equation and return to the HTML editor.

  5. Within the HTML editor, you will see a yellow box with a 'Sigma' symbol in the middle where the equation has been inserted. Before saving and exiting the HTML editor, you may press the 'Preview' icon to view the actual equation along with the rest of the document.

You may create additional equations in your document by following the above steps.  Before closing the HTML editor, remember to save your document by pressing an appropriate button: Save, Publish, Update, or Revert to Draft.


Entering an Equation

Enter an equation according to the input method selected:

Graphical Editor

The Insert Equation interface contains this:

Graphical Editor

Create your equation in the equation area (large white box) using any of the available symbols and operators made accessible by clicking a tabbed page in the toolbar at the top of the Equation Editor.

Each tabbed page opens a palette of related mathematical symbols.  

The first tabbed page also contains some controls to edit or format the equation:

 Editing Controls
 Controls to Format Selected Text
 Editing controls  Formatting Controls

Equations are built up out of templates.  Create a new template by clicking on its button in the toolbar.

Blank templates have 'slots' represented by small squares that can be filled in.  To select a slot, click on it with the mouse, or use the 'Tab' key to cycle between empty slots.

If you highlight an expression, and then click on a template, the highlighted expression will automatically be placed in the main template slot.

You can switch to MathML input mode by selecting the 'Toggle graphical / MathML editor' ( </> ) control near the lower right corner.

The palettes for the available buttons are shown in the section Equation Editor Buttons below.


The Insert Equation interface contains this:

LaTeX interface

You may click the "Which LaTeX commands are supported?" to find out which commands are supported by the application.

Enter supported LaTeX commands in the box under "LaTeX Equation".

Look at the preview of the equation displayed and modify the LaTeX commands as needed.

After doing so, the Insert Equation interface will look like this:

LaTeX example


The Insert Equation interface contains this:

MathML interface

Enter supported MathML tags in the box under "MathML Equation".

You should press the Generate a Preview button to preview the equation and modify the MathML tags as needed.

After doing so, the Insert Equation interface will look like this:

MathML example

You can switch to Graphical Editor input mode by selecting the 'Toggle graphical / MathML editor' ( </> ) control.

Editing an Existing Equation

To edit an existing equation in a document, place your cursor on the equation and click the 'Graphical equation' icon ( Sigma ),   'MathML equation' icon (<Sigma>),  or 'LaTeX equation' icon ( \Sigma ) that appears in the toolbar,  depending on how the equation was inserted.   The Edit Equation interface will open using the Math Format that was used to create the equation.  You can then modify the equation and save it by pressing the Insert button.

Equation Editor Buttons

The palettes for the buttons in the Graphical Editor are shown below:

General palette
Symbols palette
Arrows palette
Greek Letters
Greek Letters palette
Matrices palette

When a matrix is present and selected, a 'Properties' tab appears at the right providing a way to insert or remove rows and columns.
Properties for Matrices
Properties for Matrices

 Controls to Insert/Remove Rows/Columns
 Controls to Insert/Remove Rows/Columns

Scripts and Layouts
Scripts and Layout palette
Decorations palette
Big Operators
Big Operators palette
Calculus palette

See Also:

Keywords:brightspace learn@uw learnuw desire2learn d2l equation editor html WYSIWYG symbol operator palette graphic LaTeX MathML   Doc ID:2212
Owner:Susan D.Group:Learn@UW Utility
Created:2003-09-02 19:00 CDTUpdated:2015-06-03 16:12 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Learn@UW Madison, Learn@UW Utility
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