Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Typesetting Mathematics in Google Drive

In a previous post, I mentioned that in the native Google formats on Google Drive, it is difficult to typeset mathematics. Here I will describe how to work around this issue. 

Options for creating images with mathematical symbols are:
  1. In general, the first ways that come to mind to typeset mathematics are via LaTeX, MathJAX, by using Equation Editor for Word, or by using Math Type. However, in order to adapt any of these to a Google Doc or Form, an image (JPEG or PNG) is needed. Since I prefer LaTeX, I use a LaTeX to image compiler to create an image that can be inserted into a Form or Doc. I have been using SciWeavers. The site is not perfect, as it can be difficult to get justification and alignment right, but it does the job. You can copy-paste the image or copy the URL and let the Google Form retrieve the image that way. For a Form, it makes the most sense to typeset your entire question and copy it.
  2. Typeset mathematics in your favorite way. Then take a screenshot and crop it so that it has only the math that you want. Finally, copy-paste the image into the Google Doc, Form, or whatever you are working on.
  3. Create the entire document outside of Google Drive, but load it into Drive for the purposes of sharing or whatever other reason you want the item in your cloud account.
  4. g(Math) is a Docs add-on that renders math formulas and graphs in Docs. I have not tried it, but this at least solves the problem for Docs (but not Forms). 
These are either incomplete or inelegant solutions. I am hoping that by posting, either someone will suggest a better alternative, or that Google will address the issue.

By the way, for those of you using Forms with your math classes, I am working on a list of some alternatives to Forms that are out there—and there are a LOT of options. This will be the subject of a future post.

After I composed this post, I wanted to make sure everything was up-to-date, and I found this thread https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/docs/mMQl4IkKG2c that includes the same suggestions for Forms. 

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