Best Way To Type Math Symbols
Here’s a common issue for math teachers that doesn’t get communicated enough: it’s really hard to write math symbols and mathematical notations on our digital devices. Be it a Chromebook, iPad, or even on our smartphones, when it comes to displaying the complex mathematical expressions and equations you’re trying to discuss in a lesson, there’s not one tool that does it very well.
The old way to type math symbols
In the past I depended on Microsoft Word where I used the equation tool to write out the equation, copy, and then paste it into the medium that I wanted. However, there were a couple issues with that workflow. For example, it wasn’t really straightforward where that equation tool was. I found myself googling “Microsoft Equation Tool” just to remind myself where it was in the first place. What made matters worse was that oftentimes when I copied and pasted, where I copied and pasted to would be a roll of the dice since not every application would honor the special notation.
Online, it was an even dicier proposition. For those of us who are a little more technical with our math symbol skillz (Yeah, that’s right. I used a “z”) our options were LaTeX or other open source formula editors like MathQuill. The only problem with these were that they were a teeeny bit too technical for mere mortals like myself. I only heard whispers of what they were but never quite wrapped my mind around how they worked. Yes, tools like Desmos used MathQuill which was nice, but never mind trying to copy and paste that into a different website.
Well, it’s 2016 now and it’s about time someone tried to tackle this issue, and they have.
A better way to type math symbols
I found Nuten while I was surfing around Twitter today 1 and I like the idea of it. I’m going to be honest yet, it’s not a perfect solution for me yet, but Nuten makes it easy to create as simple or as complex a mathematical notation or equation as you want and then share it as a image through whatever medium you’d like.
At first, I thought it was weird that they didn’t offer this as a third party keyboard option in iOS. However, as I thought about it more, a few things came to mind: (1) I’m not sure if there is any support in iOS to display complex math symbols and notations and (2) I can’t remember the last time I thought to myself, “I would LOVE to send [insert friends name here] the quadratic equation through a text message. Darn this iPhone and its limited mathematical notation capabilities!”
So with that said, I think this is good enough for now. The app itself is simple and intuitive to use and it covers almost every math symbol you could ever need or want when working in math or science settings. Also, when I contacted the Nuten team to ask them for permission to write about them, they were really prompt to answer and even invited me to the beta of their next version (which I happily accepted and will most definitely write about later after I’ve used it.)
For the life of me, I can’t remember whose tweet I found this in otherwise, I would LOVE to give them credit. I went down one of those Twitter wormholes where I went from one tweet to a website to another website, where I eventually lost track of how I found it in the first place 🙁 If you tweeted about Nuten, let me know so I can verify it and show you some Internet love.↩