Typing and updating mathematical equations in iWork ‘09 and elsewhere on OS X: MathType 6

Pages '09 comes with potential MathType equation integration. If you own or buy MathType 6 for the Mac, you can now just insert MathType equations into Pages '09, but also in Numbers '09 and even in Keynote '09. Inserting a MathType equation is easy as cake, but MathType 6 can do a lot more than just be added to a document. I tested MathType 6 and its iWork '09 integration and focused on using MathType equations from iWork into other applications.Of course I started my MathType review by playing with the MathType application, and what else can I do than kick in a wide open door: “This application makes it really easy to type in equations.” While spending time with MathType 6 by itself, I couldn’t stop thinking I wish I would have had this when I was fifteen or sixteen. My maths would have benefited greatly from it. But MathType isn’t just for kids who hate writing simple mathematical equations.

The application is used by scientists and people who write books that contain complex formulas. They must be able to do more than just type in the formula and then print it. These days, they also need to publish their work on the web, dynamically or not, and there is a high probability they also need to convert the equations into a mathematical markup language like TeX or MathML.
I couldn’t figure out on my own how to do all these things, so I started by reading the manual. I learned that I can drag an equation from Wikipedia to the MathType editor and then edit that equation in MathType. If I want, I can copy the equation back to Wikipedia. I tried it, and it worked, but I also wanted to see what would happen if I copied the equation to Pages.

Well, not a lot happened. I ended up with a bad looking equation-as-an-image. The procedure to get Wikipedia equations in an iWork ‘09 application therefore is slightly more complicated than just dragging it to the iWork program and then open it in MathType. You’ll first have to drag it to MathType and then load it into Pages for example.

However, that doesn’t work really elegantly, so I changed the workflow a bit and first inserted a MathType equation in Pages, removed the default equation, then dragged the Wikipedia equation into the MathType window, after which I could just save and update the Pages document.

If you care to remember the workflow, this is pretty cool.
Equation typing power to iWork '09MathType also integrates with WebEQ, a collection of programs and applets for creating dynamic math in web pages. I’m sure it does, but I don’t have WebEQ, nor am I brilliant enough to use it, so I’ll let that one pass by me. MathML rings a bell, though. Can you insert an equation in Pages ‘09 and then have it translated easily into MathML?

MathML translation isn’t going to happen unless you make a short detour via MathType itself. In Pages ‘09 you’ll have to double-click the equation to open MathType, then copy the equation from there—all in good faith that you have set MathML as the translator—and paste it where you want the MathML code to appear.
As you can see, a lot of MathType’s power is preserved in iWork ‘09, However, at least one thing you can’t do in iWork ‘09 documents, is have your equations numbered the way you can have them numbered in a Word document—with the numbering at the right-hand side. However, Pages ‘09’s numbering scheme does allow you to insert numbers next to the equation, but always with the numbering at the left-hand margin (at least, I couldn’t make it work differently).

Another issue with MathType 6 and iWork ‘09 is that by default you won’t get italic variables. In order to fix that, you can follow the guidelines on MathType’s web site. It’s an easy fix, but not an elegant one.
Whatever you do in MathType itself, works the way it always works in that application. It’s just the powerful functionality you can have in MS Word that is absent from the Pages integration. Nevertheless, it will be clear that MathType 6 is a must-have if you regularly (want to) type mathematical formula in Pages ‘09. There’s little if any competition in this market, and MathType 6 does have all it takes to create well formed, well designed equations.

And although it’s not explicitly mentioned in the MathType 6 manual, a MathType equation saved as an EPS (the default setting) and dragged into Indesign CS4 will open MathType 6 when you right-click and select “Edit Original” in InDesign. Changed equations will also automatically update in InDesign as soon as they’re saved in MathType. The same applies to QuarkXPress 8 and even to Adobe Illustrator CS4.


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