Updated February 2007 for Impress -- see end of post.
Sooner or later, no matter who you are, you're going to have to talk about pi. Or you're going to need to talk about squaring lambda. (Mmm....squaring lambda.....) Or you'll need to have a+b+c divided by 2.
How do you do that in OpenOffice?
The first step is to just go to the old reliable Insert menu. Anything out of the realm of plain text, just go to the Insert menu.
Just Using the Special Characters Window
Now, if you just want a Special Character, pi or lambda or something, you can choose Insert > Special Character.
Find the one you want. If you select several you'll see them all displayed at the right side of the window and they'll all be inserted.
Then just click Insert. The character will show up.
It's a pain to scroll through all that again and again so make an AutoText entry for it. See
Using the Formulas Features
If you need something more complex, then instead, choose Insert > Object > Formula.
You get an editing window at the bottom, a box for the equation in the document, and a little shortcut window floating off to the side.
Now, you can use the little shorcut window. Click an item above the line, then click an item below the line and that inserts some placeholder stuff for you in the editing window.
Use the Formula Reference Tables online help list to see how to enter formulas. Basically, do it how you think it would work. Use the OpenOffice.org Math Examples online help list to see examples. These are really good. Just press F1 while you're in the editing window; you can type the titles of these topics into the Find or Index window.
- Use ^ for exponents, as in 3^2 which would be three, squared.
- Use sqrt for square root
- Use % in front of the written version of a symbol, as in %pi
So here are a few formulas. They're pretty easy to figure out. Click each image to see a slightly larger version, if you like.
a + b / $pi
a + b over $pi
(a + b) over $pi
Click the Sigma icon at the top to add a special character.
You can just scroll through and select something from the list, and insert it.
Or you can add something yourself if you don't see what you need.
Optional: Add your own symbol
To add something you don't see, click Edit.
Find what you want, by scrolling and manipulating all the dropdowns. Then name it, and click Add, not Edit.
The new symbol will show up in the symbol list.
Click in the document to stop editing the formula.
If you want to get back into the formula to change it, double-click the box the formula is in.
Formatting the Formula
All right. You've got a great formula. But it's really small. Or you'd like a different font. You change these by selecting the formula in the editing window and click on the Format menu.
Choosing Fonts gives you this window. You get to choose the font by the type: variables, etc. Click and hold down on the Modify button to change any font.
Select the font in this window, then click OK all the way back out of the windows.
That's About It
Insert > Object > Formula. Type what you want and use the online help and the brief tips I gave you.
Click in the document when you're done, and double-click the equation box to start editing again.
To format, select the text in the editing box and find the Format menu.
To add a symbol you don't know, click the Epsilon icon at the top of the window and select one--or click Edit to create your own.
Doing All This in Impress
I'm using 2.1 in February 2007 and it works just fine.
Double-click to edit, as usual.
Double-click the formula object to get into edit mode. Use the Format menu or make other changes.