How to Use the Equation Editor in Google Docs

Easily add math equations to your documents

What to Know

  • Go to Insert Equation. Build your equation using numbers and the equation toolbar. Click outside of the text box to exit.
  • Press the Enter key to edit other parts of the document like text, images, etc.
  • To write another equation, select New equation from the toolbar. When you're done, deselect Show equation toolbar in the View menu.

This article explains how to add equations to Google Docs in a web browser. You can't edit or create equations in the Docs app.

How to Use the Equation Editor in Google Docs

Writing equations in Google Docs is easy with the built-in equation toolbar. Teachers can use it when producing worksheets, and students have all the symbols they need to show their work.

You can write Greek letters like pi and mu, relations such as inequalities and the 'not equal' sign, arrows, and symbols like divide, integral, square root, union, and sum.

  1. Go to Insert > Equation.

    The Insert menu highlighted along with the Equation button in Google Docs.
  2. A new menu will appear, and a new text box will show up in the document. With the cursor focused in the text box, build the equation using numbers and the equation toolbar.

    The equation toolbar menu highlighted with example equations in Google Docs.
  3. Click outside of the text box to exit the equation editor. Once the cursor is next to the text box, the Enter key lets you use the document for other things like text, images, etc.

    To write a separate equation, select New equation from the toolbar. When you're completely done with the math side of things, you can hide the toolbar by deselecting Show equation toolbar in the View menu.

Tips When Writing Equations

  • Shortcuts are supported. Type a backslash followed by the symbol name and a space, such as \ne to write the 'not equal' sign or \frac to build a fraction. The Google Docs Equation Editor Shortcuts website has a great list of equation shortcuts you can use until you've memorized them.
  • Use the left and right arrow keyboard keys to move through the equation; a space doesn't always do what you think it will. For example, when you're finished writing a fraction's numerator, use the right arrow to jump down to the denominator. Repeat or press Enter to "exit" the fraction space and move on to the next part of the equation.
  • Copying a single item from an equation proves difficult with a mouse. Hold Shift and choose an arrow key to highlight just that one part. Ctrl+C or Command+C is the quickest way to copy.

Google Docs Won't Solve the Equation

Need help solving math equations? Docs can't help you there, but some handy calculator apps can.

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