Microsoft Excel is a fantastic tool for analyzing scientific data. Microsoft Word is a fantastic tool for writing up scientific research. So surely Microsoft Office is the only software a scientist would ever require beyond that associated with specialist scientific apparatus? Unfortunately, that has never been the case and most university researchers would identify one big problem with the Office suite and that is why it‘s always been difficult to present formulas in Word and Excel. Even when you type a simple fraction like 3/5, it gets presented on a single line. As for Greek symbols like pi...well, that would mean many hours wasted trawling through Excel‘s Insert Symbol menu.
This may sound a little unfair. After all, a standard Microsoft installation would include something called Equation Editor. Suffice to say, it wasn‘t advertised in the promotional videos. Software like Matlab was considered vastly superior and had the added advantage that you could analyze the equations as well. Anyway, the good news is that Microsoft has taken a big step forwards with Office 2010 and it‘s now possible to correctly display formulas in a pretty painless fashion. In Excel 2010, you should select the Insert ribbon, and click Equation. This creates a textbox and brings up a whole new ribbon with options for inserting equations. As well as providing easy access to the main Greek symbols, Microsoft have provided quick access to a number of simple functions, such as fractions and exponentials.