Even though I’d love to say I use for everything, I actually only use it for my grad school assignments. I don’t use it for all my worksheets and assessments. There is a teacher in our math department who does use for everything, but it’s not me.
That being said, Microsoft has made a significant upgrade to its equation editor with the release of Office 2007 (I know, pretty stale news–but my school just upgraded this past year) and lovers will love it if they haven’t tried it yet. The old Microsoft Equation 3.0 which shipped with earlier Office products had a few shortcuts, but it was still pretty hard to type equations without using the toolbar. Color-coding was problematic, and equation objects didn’t respond to font-size changes or other formatting properties. Animations in powerpoint were also difficult.
The new equation editor is much better for the following reasons:
1. The shortcuts are amazing, and most simple commands work. For a complete list of shortcuts go here for a great pdf cheat sheet. You can even add your own custom commands if you go into your options to Proofing > AutoCorrect Options and click on the “Math AutoCorrect” tab. Also, pressing Alt+= will immediately launch the editor. So inserting an equation is fast and you never need to leave the keyboard.
2. Most calculator-style syntax is accepted as well. So typing 3^x [space] / 4^y [space][space] results in , without any extra effort. Tapping the spacebar will automatically convert your calculator syntax into pretty display math. For a more complicated example, consider this:
produced by typing “lim_(n\to\infty)[space]((2n+1)(3n-2))/(4n^2)[space]=3/2[space].”
3. As hinted above, the new equation editor responds to all the normal font formatting options in Microsoft Office. You can color your formulas, you can change the font size, and you can apply any other text effect like shadow/glow/outline/etc. [edit: Though you can change all those things, no, you cannot change the font face. There are a limited number of fonts available for use, and the only one I know of is the default, Cambria Math–if you know of another one, please share!]
4. In powerpoint, animations are quite a bit easier, since you can do all the equations in-line as part of the text, rather than juggling scads of different text and equation objects.
For more on Microsoft’s new Equation Editor, please check out my more recent post here!