Skip to main content

Introductory tutorials

These first few tutorials are intended to get you started using MathType If the level of math here is more complex than what you use every day, don't worry. The techniques you will learn in order to work through this math will be exactly the same techniques you will use at any level.


Since this section of the documentation pertains specifically to MathType web interface, mostly we'll just say MathType here rather than the complete name, MathType web interface.

Also note that since MathType can be used with many different HTML editors, LMSs, and other applications, it is not practical to cover every use case in these introductory tutorials. Thus, our videos and screen shots may not look exactly like what you see in MathType every day. Please don't focus on the exact appearance (order of tabs, available symbols, etc.), but rather on the general techniques presented.

Opening MathType

You already know MathType works in many different environments. Using MathType in one of these contexts is very similar to using it in any other, so the techniques we present here will apply anywhere you use MathType

Toolbar appearances vary, but in general you're looking for this icon: intro1_mtw_icon.png. If you click that, MathType will open.


But what if that icon's not on the toolbar?

There may be two reasons for that:

  1. You may be looking at the application's simplified toolbar. Look for an icon to expand it to the full toolbar:

  2. It also could be that you're already looking at the full toolbar, but the intro1_mtw_icon.png icon still isn't there. Most applications use that icon, but some don't. Look for something that looks like it's intended for math. Like this one, for example:


Creating the equation

  1. There are 10 tabs on the MathType toolbar. If you hover the mouse pointer over a tab, a symbol, or a template, a tooltip will appear, letting you know what's beneath the pointer, as well as its shortcut key (if one exists):

  2. There are so many math symbols, we couldn't include them all on the main toolbar. Notice the "expander buttons" that provide access to additional symbols:

  3. If you type this in plain text (not in MathTypex+y – it doesn't look right because the + symbol needs space on either side of it. When you type in MathType it adds proper spacing automatically, so you won't normally need the spacebar when typing math:

  4. You can change the font to more closely match the font in your application if you want:

  5. To insert the equation into the page, task, assignment, quiz, etc., look for a button labeled Accept (as in the screen shots here), OK (as in the screen shot at the top of the page), or something similar.

Editing an equation

If you need to edit an equation, first click once to select the equation, then click the same icon that launched MathType when you created the equation. Make the edits, then click Accept, OK, etc.


Creating a simple formula

In our first tutorial, we will create this equation:


There's an embedded editor at the end of this tutorial, so feel free to practice right here on this page if you want. If any of these steps gives you a bit of trouble, feel free to write our technical support staff at any time. We'll be glad to help.

Creating the equation

Follow the steps below to create the equation. We'll use bold type to indicate characters you'll need to type into the editor.

This animation briefly shows the steps we will take to create the equation:


Begin typing

After opening MathType type tan. Notice MathType recognizes "tan" as a function name, and displays it with non-italic type.


Greek and other special letters

Now we need to type the Greek letter theta. Notice the name of the fourth tab from the left:


After you choose that tab, you'll find theta in the top row of Greek letters. Click it to insert it into the equation.


Continue typing

Type = (from the keyboard; it's not on the MathType toolbar). Now return to the General tab (the first tab on the left). In the middle, find ± and insert that into the equation. Similarly, the fraction template.


Type the numerator

To the right of the fraction template in the toolbar is the template for square root. Click to insert that template into the numerator, and type 1 cos inside.

Insert the superscript template: intro1_superscript.png. Type 2, and press right arrow to exit the superscript but remain inside the radicand.

Type θ using the same techniques as above.


Type the denominator

Press the down arrow on the keyboard to move into the denominator. Type cosθ, using the same techniques as above.


If you are using the demo editor immediately below, you are finished. If you are working in an application (a blog, an LMS, etc.), click OK to insert the equation into the post, article, or other document. Now you're ready to proceed to the next tutorial.

Piecewise functions and equation alignment

Here we'll see some of MathType capabilities for controlling alignment of multiple lines. Doing so is common in mathematics, but especially when typing piecewise functions and systems of equations/inequalities. We'll mostly cover the first scenario in this tutorial, with some tips for the second.

We'll construct this piecewise function:


Type the left side

Having worked through the first 2 tutorials, you already know enough about MathType to begin, so type everything on the left, up to the = sign:


Single brace

Now we need a single brace. Looking at MathType toolbar, we see a pair of braces, but not the single brace:


The obvious solution is to simply type one from the keyboard and that may work, but it may not work. Here's why...

MathType offers the option for admins to configure it for "automatic formatting". This means if you type the left brace (or parenthesis, or bracket), you get both left and right ones. But whether your admin has configured yours this way or not, there is a better way

The piecewise function template

What if you do type a single brace though? What next – how do you type the rest of the function? Fortunately MathType makes it even easier than that.

For this, we'll use the piecewise function template:


Type the rest of the function, using the right and down arrow keys to move from one template slot to the next (you can find the symbol on Tab 1). When you're finished, it should look like this:


If that's how you want it to look, you're finished, but by mathematics typesetting rules, "if" should not be italicized. To change it to upright, select the word and click the automatic italic button on Tab 1:


Repeat for the second one, and now you're finished.

Additional tips

  1. Functions with more than 2 parts.


    This requires using the contextual tab (it's the one at the far right, the only red one), which we'll cover in the next tutorial.

  2. Aligning a system of equations. This is similar to the situation we created in this tutorial, but alignment is different. Consider this simple system of 2 linear equations:


    This also requires using the contextual tab. We'll cover both of these situations in more detail in Tutorial 4…

MathType's contextual tab

There are so many situations that arise when writing equations that to include them all in MathType toolbar would introduce unnecessary complexity. What about:

  1. Interval notation: intro4_interval.png

  2. Bracketed expressions with a larger numerator than denominator (or vice versa):

  1. A matrix where you want different alignment between columns:


Those are just a few examples where MathType contextual tab is useful. This tab is the one at the far right, the only red one: intro4_contextual.png. Notice the buttons sometimes change. That's what makes it contextual; its appearance depends on the location and context of the insertion point.

Additional tip #1 in the previous tutorial required adding one additional row to the existing function. Additional tip #2 required aligning the 2 equations at the = symbol.

In this tutorial, we'll continue with those 2 equations and show not only how to align at the = symbol, but to align the rest of it like this:


Let's get started…

Type the equations

That's easy enough; just press Enter after the first one:


Align at =

With the insertion point (cursor) anywhere in either of the 2 lines, select the contextual tab and click the Relation align button:


Doing so will align multiple lines on whatever relational symbol appears [first] in each line — =, ≠, ∼, ≤, etc. — so it's not only for equations.

Complete alignment

Sometimes that's exactly what you want. For the purpose of this tutorial though, it's not the look we're after. We want x to line up in each line, and the + & , and the y, and the relational symbols, and we want the sum/difference to be decimal-aligned (or right-aligned if there's no decimal).

Here's how to do that…

Create a matrix

We'll have to retype it. The best way to arrange something like that is in a matrix, arranged this way (dotted lines added to help see the matrix elements):


So we're typing coefficient, x, and operator symbol in the first cell, coefficient, y, and relational symbol in the second cell, and the sum/difference in the third cell. We'll need a matrix with as many rows as equations, and one more column than variables. In this case that's a 2×3 matrix.

When we're finished typing it, we'll have something like this:


Align the columns

We want "right alignment" on all 3 columns, but we must do them separately. Click inside the first column (either row). On the contextual tab, click Align right:


Repeat with the other 2 columns. Now your equations look like this:


Reduce column spacing

There's one final adjustment to make so our equations "look normal", and that is to reduce the spacing between the columns. That's also on the contextual tab:


This will affect the column spacing to the right of the current column, so you'll have to do it for all columns except the one at the far right. Try different values if you want. We think 0px looks pretty good.

Now yours should look like ours did at the beginning of this tutorial:


There are many adjustments you can make from the contextual tab. The purpose of this tutorial has been to get you into the habit of looking at the contextual tab if you need to make fine adjustments to the appearance of your equations. The contextual tab is covered in greater detail in a later section of this documentation.

What to do next

By completing these tutorials, you've gone through the basics of using MathType and can start using equations in your documents. However, there's still a lot more you can do in MathType The more you practice, the better you'll be able to create just about anything!