Book on Technical Writing in Word

There’s a new Microsoft Press book on creating technical documents in Word, entitled Creating Research and Scientific Documents using Microsoft Word. Alexander Mamishev, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, is the primary author and I wrote most of Chapter 6 on equations. The book emphasizes the utility of Word templates in streamlining the preparation of technical documents. Such documents contain headings, figures, tables, equations, citations and cross references. Moreover they often have to match a particular publisher’s preferences. The book contains a wealth of ideas to aid in creating these documents as well as whole books.

Nontechnical documents and books often use of subset of these features, so the book is handy for preparation in Word of other kinds of documents as well. For example, if you want to know how to manipulate styles, headings, tables, and figures in Word, most of the relevant methodologies are covered. Cool tips are included such as noting that the hot key shift+F1 reveals all the formatting of the current selection.

Chapter 6 on equations contains much of the content of my math posts to the Math in Office blog. The chapter is easier to read than the individual posts, since the chapter is organized in a logical fashion, whereas the posts appear in a somewhat random order. So the chapter is a useful guide to creating and modifying equations using the built-in Office equation facility. The chapter also describes some of the features of MathType, an add-in program with powerful math facilities.

I have noticed typos in the book, such as failing to italicize some mathematical variables. If you spot errors, please go to the errata site to see if the error has already been reported. If not, please add a new entry.

The book gives a method for numbering equations complete with cross references. The approach inserts a center tab before the equation and a right tab before the equation number. While this works well for simple equations, there are some problems for more complicated equations as I’ll describe in the next post. That post also gives a way around the problems.