How can I convert the old Microsoft word equations (version 3) to the new format?

I have an old document file full of equations, and an automatic conversion solution rather than re-typing all equations will be a huge time-saver!

I also tried GrindEq,but word crahes after conversion!

Edit 1: I'm using Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013 (64-bit) on Win 8.1

Edit 2: I also installed MathType. It supports lots of different formats to convert to, but I could not find Microsoft equation!

  • 1
    GrindEq worked for me in a simple test (using Word 2007 on Win 7). Maybe you tried something too complicated, and maybe you could use it on your document if you split it to a few files and convert them, then handle any offending equations manually. Dec 22 '13 at 11:58
  • I'm using Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013 on Win 8.1. I even tried it on simple equations, and it did not work. I think it is because of the outdated GrindEq software. According to their website "Works with Microsoft Word XP/2003/2007/2010 and Microsoft Windows XP/2003/Vista/7."
    – ManiAm
    Dec 22 '13 at 12:12
  • Can't you just save the old document in the new format, by first opening it in Word 2013 and Save As a Word Document
    – Firee
    Feb 4 '14 at 14:26
  • @Firee: By this, only the document will be converted into new version not the equations.
    – ManiAm
    Feb 4 '14 at 17:43
  • @ManiAm Did you finally get a solution to this from elsewhere? You might think of starting a bounty
    – Firee
    Mar 3 '14 at 11:57

This is a bit lengthy, but it works!

  1. Download and LibreOffice. It's free. Only the Windows version works, the Mac (OS X) version won't work (I tried it).
  2. Go into Word and save your file as a .doc (if it's not already in that format)
  3. Go into LibreOffice, open the .doc file and save it as a .odt file
  4. Go into Word, open the .odt file and save it as a .docx

This reduced the file size of some of my Word files with lots of equations by 90%


When you open a document containing an equation that was written in an older version Word, you need to use Equation 3.0 or the add-in that was used to write the equation to change it. Equation 3.0 is available in Word 2013 and when you click in an equation written with Equation 3.0, it will open automatically.

Double-click the equation that you want to edit.

Make the changes that you want.

If you convert an older document to the current format, you can use Word 2013’s more powerful built-in tools to write an equation. However, any old equations written using Equation 3.0 or using an add-in must be manually recreated if you wish to use Word 2013’s built-in equation editor.

To convert a document, click File > Info > Convert.


Unless you try to convert a new document into an older one, you should see the compatibility options for your Microsoft Word.

Windows has many compatibility options. You can check their Help Site to see if your question is included in the Help center or in the Forums.

Offering more details would help us. Give us the solutions you tried.

You can install EQ 3.0 to edit equations in older word. Choose EQ 3.0 in object. If you want to make a full convert, you'll need to use a third party software.

Solution: The default format for Word 2007 files, DOCX, creates a compressed group of XML (Extensible Markup Language) files, each of which contains information about the document. It is incompatible not only with earlier versions of Word, but also with other programs that have previously been able to open Word files. 

Users of Word 2003, 2002, or 2000 can open Word 2007 files if they install the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. (Visit www.microsoft.com/downloads and search for Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack For Word.) 

Optionally, you can use the Save As option to save files in DOC format, which is compatible with Word 97 to 2003. Users of other programs can use a file converter such as Zamzar (free; www.zamzar.com). 

To enable users of previous versions of Microsoft Word to read your Word 2007 documents without a special download, save them in Word 97-2003 format. If you used features unique to Word 2007, such as themes, citations, and equation building, in your file, these elements will not come through as expected during format conversion, and some information may be lost permanently. Word 2007 will restore as many features as possible when you reopen a converted file, but it cannot restore all lost formatting. If you want to keep all functionality, save two versions—one for Word 2007 and one for users of other versions. 

Source : http://www.uvm.edu/~bnelson/computer/word2003/whenisaveafileinmicrosoftword2007olderversionsofwordcannotopenthem.html

Mathtype is a commercial program to convert equations in more than 500 formats.

It is well praised. I have seen many references to this program to deal with Word Compatibility Problems.

MathType has a free 30 day free trial you could use to convert your equations for free.


I use a trick that isn't a solution, but you can try a chance.

Log into One Drive with your Microsoft account, upload your file, and open it on Office Online, then save it or print as PDF.

  • This doesn't answer the original question at all. The OP is asking about converting equations not the entire document.
    – Burgi
    May 16 '16 at 10:50

I just copy and paste from old to new. Word use to always recognized older equations.

  • ...or use excel
    – user773626
    Sep 21 '17 at 20:58

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