Equations have become non-editable "pictures" in Microsoft Word
The information in this document applies to:
MathType 6.x (Windows)
MathType 6.x (Macintosh)
Microsoft Word 2002 and later (Win)
Microsoft Word 2008 and 2011 (Macintosh)
Does not apply to Word 2016/365 for Mac.
After opening a previously saved Word file containing MathType equations, you
discover all or some of the MathType objects have become non-editable
"pictures." This is associated with the Auto-recovery function in Word.
We know the bug is in Word, because the same issue happens with other embedded
"objects", such as Excel charts.
- Attempting to edit
an equation by double-clicking on it will bring up the Format Picture dialog
instead of MathType.
- Copying and
pasting the equation into a MathType window results in the error "The Clipboard
contains no equation data"
Microsoft recommends turning off the Auto-save function in Word. Note
however, this is a prevention step and will not repair equations that have already
become non-editable pictures. The steps to disable auto-save are different for each
version of Word whether on the Macintosh or on the Windows platforms. Simply
look for the "Save" preferences for your version of Word and remove the check
mark from "Save Auto-recovery data every x minutes."
In many cases, the equations will display and print correctly. If you don't
need to edit the equations, it is possible to simply leave them as they are.
If you only need
to edit a small
number of equations, it may be more expedient to delete
those equations and recreate them in MathType.
It's rare, but in some cases it may be possible to recover the equations by
running the Convert Equations command within Word:
- Open the document in Word and save it as an RTF (Rich text
- From the MathType menu (or Tab), choose Convert Equations.
- Choose the following settings in the Convert Equations dialog:
Under "Equation Types to Convert", select (as a minimum)
"MathType or Equation Editor Equations" and "Microsoft Word EQ
Set the Range to "Whole Document".
- Under "Convert equations to" select "MathType equations (OLE
- Click the "Convert" button to start the conversion process.
- When the conversion is complete, a dialog will appear confirming the
number of equations converted.
- Save the document from Word as either a .doc or .docx file.
(When it comes to this issue, .doc seems to be more stable than
- The document and hopefully all equations might be editable
now using any version of Word along
with MathType. Note that sometimes this conversion method cannot recover all
equations in a document. If this is the case, equations will
have to be re-created and there is nothing MathType can do to auto-recover
Getting This Problem Addressed by Microsoft
It's important for Microsoft’s customers to report their experience of this
problem so that Microsoft can appreciate how widespread it is and appreciate the
need to devote their programming resources toward resolving it. We’ve reported
the details of this issue, including sample documents to Microsoft, and we
encourage all users who experience this problem to do the same.