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LibreOffice 3.3Math Guide

The LibreOffice Equation Editor

CopyrightThis document is Copyright © 2005–2011 by its contributors as listed below. You may distribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either the GNU General Public License (, version 3 or later, or the Creative Commons Attribution License (,version 3.0 or later.
All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.
Jean Hollis Weber
Please direct any comments or suggestions about this document to:
This guide is based on the 3.3 Math Guide. The contributors to that book are:
Daniel CarreraAgnes BelzunceTJ FrazierPeter KupferIanLaurenson Janet M. SwisherJean Hollis WeberMichele Zarri
Publication date and software version
Published 27 August 2011. Based on LibreOffice 3.3.
Note for Mac usersSome keystrokes and menu items are different on a Mac from those used in Windows and Linux. The table below gives some common substitutions for the instructions in this chapter. For a more detailed list, see the application Help.Windows/Linux | Mac equivalent | Effect |
Tools > Options menu selection | LibreOffice > Preferences | Access setup options |
Right-click | Control+click | Open context menu |
Ctrl (Control) | z (Command) | Used with other keys |
F5 | Shift+z+F5 | Open the Navigator |
F11 | z+T | Open Styles & Formattingwindow |

Note for Mac users2
What is Math?4
Getting started4
Entering a formula5
The Elements window5
Right-click (context) menu7
Greek characters8
Formula editor as a floating window10
How can I make a formula bigger?10
Formula layout11
Brackets are your friends11
Equations over more than one line11
How do I add limits to mysum/integral?12
Brackets with matrices look ugly!12
How do I make a derivative?13
How do I align my equations at the equals sign?13
Numbering equations14
Math commands - Reference16
Unary / binary operators16
Relational operators17
Set operations18
Characters – Greek25
Characters – Special25

What is Math?Math isLibreOffice’s component for writing mathematical equations. It is most commonly used as an equation editor for text documents, but it can also be used with other types of documents or stand-alone. When used inside Writer, the equation is treated as an object inside the text document.
Note | The equation editor is for writing equations in symbolic form, as in equation 1. If you want to evaluatea numeric value, see the Calc Guide. |

formula | (1) |
Getting startedTo insert an equation, go to Insert > Object > Formula.
The equation editor opens at the bottom of the screen, and the floating Elements window may appear. You will also see a small box with a gray border in your document, where the formula will be displayed, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: EquationEditor, Elements window, and location of resulting equation

Entering a formulaThe equation editor uses a markup language to represent formulas. For example, %beta creates the Greek character beta (formula). This markup is designed to read similar to English whenever possible. For example, a over b produces a fraction: formula.
You can enter a formula in three ways:
Select a symbol from theElements window.
Right-click on the equation editor and select the symbol from the context menu.
Type markup in the equation editor.
The context menu and the Elements window insert the markup corresponding to a symbol. This provides a convenient way to learn the LibreOffice Math markup.
Note | Click on the document body to exit the formula editor. Double-click on a formula to...
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