How ONLYOFFICE handles old and new formats of Microsoft equations

2 April 2020By Ivan

There are two formats of mathematical objects in MS Word – the old created using MS Office versions before 2007 and the new created with tools that appeared onwards.

Need to work with both formats comfortably? ONLYOFFICE found a way to do it.


Why there are two equation formats.

Older versions of MS Office released before 2007 used Microsoft Equation 3.0 as the main tool for typing equations. To create an equation in Word, user launched a third-party editor that is a light version of Math Type by Design Science.

The year 2007 marked the start of the transition to OOXML formats (DOCX, XLSX, PPTX ). At the same time, Microsoft created its own Equation Editor — with more math characters and templates.

Unlike Microsoft Equation, the new equation editor is WYSIWYG. This means that you are working with your equations as part of your text, without opening new windows and launching any 3rd-party software. But fun fact: even in 2020, not everyone switched to it. The reasons are simple:

  • There are many organizations and conservative users who still use outdated versions of MS Office.
  • There are people who actually love the old Microsoft Equation more.

So, we all have to deal with two equation formats and sometimes that can be extremely annoying.

How various document editors approach the problem
  • Microsoft Word allows to insert built-in equations and edit them. It is also possible to create new equations and edit old ones through a complicated process.
  • Microsoft Word Online merely doesn’t support equations. It can show them in the viewer, but in the editing mode you will see an ‘Equation’ caption.
  • Google Docs displays old equations as images and allows to edit new ones.
  • OpenOffice converts DOCX equations to its own format and works exclusively with it. And it’s not possible to open a DOC file to work with old equations.

Our team took care of both equation types. New ones can be easily created and edited per se, as our basic format is DOCX (read why it is our format of choice in a blogpost). The old ones are shown as vector images, but they can also be edited – just double-click them!

Things to know about equations in ONLYOFFICE
  • Old equations look just the same as they would look in any version of MS Word.
  • ONLYOFFICE is the only editor that converts old equations to new.
  • Converting may slightly corrupt formatting, but that can be easily fixed.
  • Implementing formats conversion was quite a challenge as DOC is a proprietary format. But we completed the task!

We did our best to make operations with equations for ONLYOFFICE users as convenient as possible — hopefully, you enjoy the result.

Useful links

Download free ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors.

Our new Home Server with professional editing functionality – just $99 fo 10 users.

A free 180-day trial of ONLYOFFICE Cloud Service for those who are working from home these days.

If you have questions, use the comments section below or just tweet us at @only_office.