Convert Ink to Math in PowerPoint

By Office Feature PM on January 28, 2019

Hi Insiders! 

My name is Tracy and I am a Program Manager on the Office Graphics team.  

Office provides a large selection of equations and symbols but it can often be difficult to find the desired symbol and add it quickly into your work. Though PowerPoint has long contained the Math Input Control, we felt that the experience would be benefited by a UI and UX upgrade that kept you in your natural workflow on the canvas. We also wanted to leverage AI improvements to the math handwriting recognition model that would save you time and produce better results. 

I’m thus excited to announce the new Ink to Math in PowerPoint. Leveraging Office’s intelligent services, you can now ink your equations directly on the PowerPoint canvas and then convert them to math text.  

Support for Ink to Math began rolling out to Windows Desktop Office 365 Subscribers on Version 1901 (Build 16.0.11215.10000). This feature is not available in Office Perpetual 2019 or 2016.  

Getting Started

Make sure that Enable services is checked in File > Options > General > Office intelligent services. Also ensure you are connected to the internet.

Office Intelligent Services dialog

Navigate to the Draw Tab. Choose a pen from the pen toolbox and ink a math equation directly on the canvas.

PowerPoint Draw Tab
Handwrite an equation using inking

In the Draw Tab, select the top part of the Ink to Math splitbutton. The bottom part of the splitbutton will present a dropdown menu; the top option in this menu is the new ink conversion described here and the bottom option is the legacy Math Input Control.

PowerPoint Ink to Math button
PowerPoint Ink to Math button, expanded

Your cursor will change to Lasso mode. Lasso select one line of ink.

Tip: The math recognition model currently only supports single-line math. We know multi-line math is very important, and we are working on improving the model.

Lassoing the handwritten equation

A conversion icon will show up and your ink will convert and be inserted into a text box.

Equation that is converted from handwriting to text

Tip: After conversion, your pen will be in Lasso mode. Disable Lasso to interact with the text box. To place the cursor in the text box, switch to Select mode in the Draw Tab and then tap with your pen inside the text box. To move the text box, switch to Select mode in the Draw Tab and press and drag the edges of text box with your pen. You can also use touch to manipulate the text box.

The Select button on the Draw Tab in PowerPoint

You can undo the conversion with the undo button in the top chrome of the app.

The undo button in PowerPoint

You can also undo the conversion by selecting the text box. Use touch to tap the text box, or switch to Select mode in the Draw Tab and tap with your pen. Select the conversion icon and then select the ink option in the callout to go back to your ink.

The conversion button on the converted equation

Alternate way to convert

After inking math, go to the Draw Tab and select Lasso. Lasso select one line of ink.

Select the conversion icon that shows up.

In the callout, choose Convert Math. You can hover over the option to see the preview.

The Convert Math callout button from the ink converstion button

After conversion, you can interact with the text box or undo the conversion as described above.

Feedback

We are actively working on this feature in Office, and your feedback is key to guiding improvements. Use Send A Smile in the Office app to let us know what you think. My team reads all feedback that filters our way, and we greatly appreciate your input!

Posted in Feature Deep Dives, Featured, Insider Fast, Office Insiders, PowerPoint, Windows Desktop

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