Get Started Using Automatic Symbol Insertion in MS Word

So you write with mathematical symbols. You’re not interested in learning LaTeX. But you’re fed up with going to Insert > Symbol every three seconds in Microsoft Word. Here is an essential trick that will simplify your life.

Begin by writing down all the mathematical symbols that you plan to use. Unfortunately, this will involve going to Insert > Symbol a bunch of times — but just this once. For example, you might write down:

δ ε π ƒ(x) x

Now here’s the trick.

1. Select the first symbol on your list (in my case, δ).

2. Go to Tools > AutoCorrect Options. In the “Replace” box, enter a code that you’ll be able to remember represents your symbol. I usually prefix the name of the symbol with a front-slash; so in this example, I’ll enter \delta into that box.

3. The δ symbol itself should have already automatically appeared in the “With” box on the right.

4. Make sure the “Formatted Text” dial is selected if you want to preserve the italics and other formatting you used.

5. Click ok.

That’s it! Whenever you enter \delta into Microsoft word, it will automatically be replaced by δ. Now, just repeat this process for each of the symbols you wrote down, and you will have permanently entered these headache-relieving codes into Word’s autocorrect database. So when I write down

|\x – \pi|
what appears is

|xπ| δ → |ƒ(x) – L| ε

The trick works for longer expressions too. For example, if I selected the expression above and go to Tools > Autocorrect Options, I can enter \LimitImp into the “Replace” box. Now, whenever I type


what appears is
|xπ| δ → |ƒ(x) – L| ε

Happy calculating!

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One thought on “Get Started Using Automatic Symbol Insertion in MS Word

  1. Nathan

    Interestingly enough, the replacement symbols you use are, like a fine surgical glove, very LaTeXy.

    A nice work around, though. Kudos.