Math Type 4.0
As a math teacher, I find Math Type 4.0 to be a vital program for classroom preparation. Math Type is an intelligent editor, automatically resizing or reformatting equations to established rules of mathematical typesetting. Prior to using Math Type, creating practice sheets, study guides or assessments for my students was challenging - even with a desktop publishing program. Math Type reduces my preparation time by allowing me to create classroom materials quickly and easily.
The Math Type interface is wonderfully intuitive. It is particularly easy for Microsoft Word users; the toolbars are set up in a similar, customizable fashion. I used the software in a school setting for one week. During that time, I did not discover one mathematical construct that couldn't easily be created using Math Type. Simple fractions, geometry proofs and complicated algebraic equations can all be created by using point-and-click commands rather than the traditional multi-step insertions.
Math Type allows toolbar customization to suit particular needs or frequently used procedures. Many operations can also be performed using shortcut keys, enabling familiar users to work even more quickly. For more complex or elaborate equations, Math Type allows fence alignment to be adjusted (characters enclosed by parentheses, bracket and braces).
One drawback to Math Type as a stand-alone program is its awkwardness when typing straight text. The spacing is designed to accommodate mathematical expressions. Therefore, the space bar is not used (spacing between numerals and variables is automatically entered). Math Type is designed to insert professional-quality mathematical spacing, which is not the same as the space character in most fonts. While stand-alone text can be entered, the user must make a few extra steps by choosing Text from the Style menu and applying it to the type.
To allow more freedom using text with inserted mathematical equations, Math Type runs in conjunction with word processing or layout application programs. Math Type and the word processing program run simultaneously, and equations are transferred into and out of the main document. There are several methods, but it d'es require the user to think of running the two programs in conjunction with each other. Math Type's most common companion is Microsoft Word; if you plan to use another program, you'll need to adapt the tutorials and instructions.
Despite the need to run programs simultaneously, I will no longer prepare classroom materials without Math Type. Students and teachers familiar with Microsoft Word will have no trouble using the software. Other notable features of the program include:
- Math Type equations can be translated in a multi-step procedure to the text-based mark up language LATEX.
- Math Type installs MathML translators (recommended by the WWW Consortium: www.w3.org) for expressing mathematics in Web pages.
- Math Type can be used in paint, draw and presentation applications, using insert or paste commands.
Elementary Technology Coordinator
Elkins Park School
Design Science Inc.
Long Beach, CA
This article originally appeared in the 11/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.