Display equation and equation number not in correct position after copy and paste

The information on this page applies to:
MathType for Windows and MacWord for Windows and Mac

You've got a document with several numbered equations, which you have inserted with the Right-numbered button on the MathType tab in Word. You need to insert a new one and it's nearly identical to the previous one. So you copy equation (2.2) and paste it, and after refreshing the numbers your 2 equations look like this:

When you paste a numbered equation and its number, they're out of position.

Equation numbers are formatted, and the numbers and equations are both positioned with a style named MTDisplayEquation. The specifications of this style's formatting are determined when you insert the first display equation into the document, whether the equation is numbered or not. Display equations are centered with a tab set at halfway between left and right margins. Right-justified equation numbers are positioned at the right margin with a right-justified tab. Depending on how you copy the equation and the number, it will probably not have these tabs associated with it. (For more detailed information about the MTDisplayEquation style, please see our other TechNote on that subject.)

The equations in this example provide a great example of why you might want to copy and paste an equation. You need an equation that's very close to an existing equation, so it's easier to modify an existing equation than it is to create a new one, and run the risk of making a typo. Doing it correctly depends on how you select, copy, and paste the equation and number.

IF you select only the equation and the number, like this…​

Equation and number are selected

…then it will paste the same as in the example above.

At this point, notice something other than the obvious. Notice on the ruler in this screen shot, there are 2 tabs. There is a center tab for positioning the equation, and there is a right-justified tab for positioning the equation number. The tabs are part of the MTDisplayEquation style. The misalignment occurs because when you copy just the equation and the number, it doesn't copy the style associated with that line. Word sees this as a paragraph like any other, and thus it pastes as Normal style, which does not include the tabs.

BUT there's a better way!

We don't recommend copying an equation from a Word document and pasting it into a Word document. Whether it's the same document or a different one doesn't really matter. We don't recommend it. It's an easy process sure, but doing this will eventually cause problems. By adding just another step or two to the process you can ensure no future issues.

  1. Don't copy the equation number. Just select and copy the equation.
  2. Insert a new right-numbered equation, or left-numbered if you're numbering on the left. Use the button on the MathType tab in Word for this.
  3. Paste the equation into the MathType window that opens up after you click Right-numbered.
  4. Make the changes and insert the equation into Word (i.e., by clicking the X in the upper right if you're using Windows or the red "stoplight" in the upper left on Mac).

Here are our 2 equations now:

Equations are in the correct position now

Tip: The equations are centered now, which is normal for display equations, but if you want the two script-H characters aligned, click inside the line containing equation (2.3) and move the center-justified tab to the left a bit. Doing so won't affect the position of the numbers, and it won't affect other numbered equations.

Script H characters aligned, rather than equations centered


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We hope this has been helpful. As always, please let us know if you have questions about this, or if you have additional techniques that work. We'd love to hear from you.