Math Symbols & Hotkeys

Hello Scriveners,

I am an ecologist, and recently began using scrivener because it makes writing scientific articles, which are partitioned into subsections, WAY easier to organize and compile. However, I often need to include mathematical equations in my articles, or at the very least several common greek letters & special symbols (e.g. the degree sign), and have run into some problems:

For math equations, is there any way to write them directly in a Scrivener project? something analogous to the ->Document Elements->Equations option in Word? or is Scrivener compatible with something like Latex? So far, the only way I’ve been able to do it is to write equations using Word, save them as PDF objects, then copy them into Scrivener…I’m hoping there is a more convenient way to do this.

As for the special symbols, I have been unable to find any way of assigning “hotkeys” for the subset of special symbols that I use most frequently. Is there any way to do this?

Thanks for any help!


Well the easiest way to do it is going to be with MathType. If you have that installed, just use the Edit/Insert/MathType Equation command.

Otherwise it can do LaTeX. Either very simply as a segmented plain-text editor, or via the MultiMarkdown syntax, which Scrivener has ample integration with.

As for the special symbols, some of them may be available as special characters with built-in Mac OS Option key shorcuts–the degree sign, for instance, is Opt-Shift-8. This page has a pretty well laid-out list. For others, you could assign them as “Favorites” in the special characters palette so they’re faster to access (Opt-Cmd-T to bring up the palette and then all your most-used will be available all grouped together without needing to search).

You also might be able to set up a text substitution at the system level. Open Scrivener’s preferences and make sure that “Symbol and text substitution” is enabled at the bottom of the “Corrections” tab, then click the button there for “System Text Preferences” to open the OS pane for adding substitutions. These won’t work everywhere in Scrivener’s interface, but they’ll work in the editor. OS substitutions kick in after you’ve typed the text to be replaced and then the space key, so this may or may not work for you, but it’s perhaps worth a try if the other options aren’t convenient.

I just wanted to do a happy dance about the MathType approach. This is the first time I’ve used it since the functionality was added to Scrivener, and I can confirm that the equations survive export to Word (RTF) entirely intact. This makes me a very happy camper.

(To the OP, the Word Equation Editor is actually a “lite” version of MathType. You’ll find it very comfortable.)