Matrix notation in 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, Writer.

After installing 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: 3.3 math formula editor elements

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:

matrix A

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 Writer window. If you are satisfied and wish to exit the formula editor, double click on any blank area of the Writer document. math formulas can similarly be added to other document types including as Impress (like PowerPoint) and Draw (somewhat like Visio).'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, it crashed, and later you found out it was the memory or the disk's fault?

Microsoft Office Diagnostics in Outlook 2007

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

Microsoft Office Diagnostics in Outlook 2007 isn't necessarily have a reptutation for being lean itself, but developers are pushing hard to make 3.2 the fastest version yet. Stay tuned for more.

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Orientation for New Users

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

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