Matrix notation in OpenOffice.org Writer

Posted by Andrew Z at Saturday, February 12, 2011 | Permalink

You don't need to blow money on Microsoft Word to write nice math notation. Say you are taking Linear Algebra or doing other mathematics that requires matrices: here is how to easily write a matrix in the free-of-charge, open source, cross-platform, OpenOffice.org Writer.

After installing OpenOffice.org and starting Writer (which is the equivalent of Microsoft Word), click Insert - Object - Formula. This starts the formula editor.

At first glance, the formula editor can be confusing. To get orientated, glance at the elements dialog:

At the top of the elements dialog, there are categories of math elements: to view the name of the category, hover the mouse cursor over the category icon. Then, to view the entries in the category, click on the category icon. The categories include:

  • Unary/binary operators
  • Relations
  • Set operations
  • Functions
  • Operators
  • Attributes
  • Others
  • Brackets
  • Formats

At the bottom of the elements dialog are the math element entries: click an entry to insert it into the editor.

Here is a basic 2x2 matrix A with entries A11=a, A12=b, A21=c, and A22=d:

The first time you try to draw this matrix, you may try to enter this math formula:

A = [ matrix { a # b ## c # d } ]

However, the matrix brackets are too short, and A is not bold. To scale the brackets taller and to make A bold, enter this formula instead:

bold A = left [ matrix { a # b ## c # d } right ]

Wait about one second for the matrix to update in the OpenOffice.org Writer window. If you are satisfied and wish to exit the formula editor, double click on any blank area of the Writer document.

OpenOffice.org math formulas can similarly be added to other document types including as Impress (like PowerPoint) and Draw (somewhat like Visio).

OpenOffice.org's math editor is sufficient for math homework and casual math use, but if you are writing a scholarly paper, TeX is the de facto standard.

You know your office suite is bloated when..

Posted by Andrew Z at Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | Permalink

You know your office suite is bloated and too complex when the help menu prominently features an "Office Diagnostic" feature covering memory, disk, setup, compatibility, and "known solutions."

Well, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 includes Office Diagnostics. The "known solutions" makes sense: Office crashes, it records a signature of the crash, submits it to programmers, and looks for updates. However, why check memory and the disk? In an office suite? Sure, hardware fails, but doesn't checking hardware belong in the operating system and not in an application? Besides, when was the last time you using Firefox or OpenOffice.org, it crashed, and later you found out it was the memory or the disk's fault?

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What's worse is this diagnostic took at least 20 minutes to finish on a nice dual-core with 2GB RAM.

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OpenOffice.org isn't necessarily have a reptutation for being lean itself, but developers are pushing hard to make OpenOffice.org 3.2 the fastest version yet. Stay tuned for more.

Related articles

  • Moore's Law: OpenOffice.org vs Microsoft Office
  • Benchmarking Microsoft Word 95 through 2007
  • Multiplatform OpenOffice.org 3.0 Benchmark

Orientation for New OpenOffice.org Users

Posted by Andrew Z at Monday, June 1, 2009 | Permalink

Know anyone new to the OpenOffice.org community needing a guide to r support, tutorials, community insights, templates, clip art, extensions, and blogs? Read my newest article "OpenOffice.org New User Orientation" on WorldLabel.com's blog.

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