If I want to indicate a negative number in the Equation Editor (Office 2007 and onward), I do this:


Equation Editor renders it nicely, with the hyphen (minus sign?) right close to the number:

negative five

But if I've got something more complicated, like a vector in polar notation:


I get this:

enter image description here

Which looks more like "twenty five angle minus five degrees" rather than "negative five degrees".

Is there any way to fix this?

2 Answers 2


The closest solution to this problem that I found is to use "Normal text" mode. Either select the minus sign and press "Normal text" in equation constructor, or put it as "-"5 instead of simply -5

The result will look like this:

enter image description here

You can probably bind it to some macro too, but I have no experience with VBA to recommend anything.

  • Wow, excellent. I've searched for a long time for this solution! Confirmed, both approaches work in Word and PowerPoint 2010.
    – Greg Bell
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 10:07

You can force the issue by wrapping invisible “parentheses” around the number:

25\angle\left -5° \right

or by using an abstract box that enforces spacing for an unary operator:


The argument to \box is documented here.


  • Totally odd! Thanks for that. How did you figure that out?
    – Greg Bell
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 23:00
  • @GregBell: A bit of understanding how such things are determined. The spacing was rather obviously binary operator spacing, so the ∠ apparently has "operand" semantics here. Putting everything in \left and \right was the first idea, since that had to change the operator to unary. The other option was by looking through the specification for "unary". The \box pretty much allows you to override all parameters that are usually inferred from context, just the argument (4) is a bit unwieldy and hard to remember. Also, the other answer made the minus the wrong character, which annoyed me.
    – Joey
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 6:13

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