A colleague sent me a document created with Microsoft Office 2007 that contains equations. On her end, the document looks fine; however, on my end, the equations show up with these funky characters overlaid on them:

alt text

Why do these weird characters show up, and how do I fix it? The equations appear like this in both .doc and .docx documents.

Additionally, when I double-click on the equations to edit them, I get a warning that the equations were created with a newer version of the equation editor, and when I close the editing window, the equations are gone completely. I think this might indicate a compatibility problem, but I am not sure of a solution.

  • 2
    Beg your colleague to learn LaTeX ;-) – David Z Sep 16 '09 at 20:56
  • Ha! I wish. But when you pay thousands for an Office site license, people insist on using only Office software. :) – mipadi Sep 18 '09 at 18:47

Well, you sort of answered your own question, unfortunately. The newer Equation editor is not 100% compatible; some characters will turn out different in older versions of Equation editor. I think there is a way to save the formulas in Word 2007 using the compatible version, although I can't remember if it's possible.

You can read more about it in this article. Here's a short summary:

An equation created using the new Word 2007 equation editor will appear as an image that cannot be edited when you subsequently open the document in Word 2003. This is the case whether you saved the document in .docx (Word 2007) or in .doc (Word 2003) format.

However, it also shows how to create an equation in Word 2007 that can be read and edited in Wrod 2003.

  • I forward that article to my co-worker and she gave it a try, but it didn't solve the problem. – mipadi Sep 18 '09 at 2:34
  • Erm, the Word 2007's equation editor is nothing like the old stripped-down version of MathType included with Office. It's not a matter of old and new version here, it's a matter of entirely different formats and implementations. The MathType one relies on OLE objects embedded into the Word document, so Word 2007's native equation support (which is really native and no OLE object in the document) doesn't have anything to do with this. – Joey Nov 5 '09 at 7:21

I think there is indeed a compatibility problem in the equation editor

If she didn't have an equation editor she wouldn't be able to edit them

The only way to verify if YOUR version isn't the cause, try it on someone else's computer as well, to see if it's her or you causing the problem.

  • It doesn't work on another colleague's computer, either. – mipadi Sep 16 '09 at 19:42
  • Then I suspect the author of the document has a broken Equation Editor – Ivo Flipse Sep 16 '09 at 20:53

This correctly resolved the issue.

  1. Delete the following two files from C:\winnt\fonts:

    symbole.fon (hidden file)
  2. Copy the above two files from another computer to a different directory, e.g. C:\data

  3. Go to the location C:\winnt\fonts
  4. Go to File > Add Font
  5. Add the above two fonts

I had the same problem and it was driving me nuts. Equations in PowerPoint showed up correctly on my laptop, but incorrectly (like yours) on my desktop, even though I am running the same operating system and Office 2007 on both. I finally fixed it with the help of the following article. I have a font manager installed and the "Symbol" font was not activated, so Equation Editor was substituting "Wingdings" instead, resulting in the incorrect characters. Hopefully this will work for you.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.