Happy 100th Tip of the Day! Equations

Today I would like to get REALLY technical and talk about equations in technical papers. Trying to use simple typing in Word to convey a complex equation on a single line of text can destroy its readability – and sometimes its understandability.

Consider the following Thomeer Equation:

Sw=((0.36-Bv)/Phi)-exp(-g/(log10(H/HD)))

You really have to study it and count your nested parentheses to understand this equation.

However, if you use Word’s Equation feature, it will look like a professor wrote it on the board

It will be much faster and easier to understand the relationships among the variables.

So how do we get there from here?

  1. Click the spot where you want to insert the equation.
  2. On the Insert menu, click Object, and then click the Create New tab.
  3. In the Object type box, click Microsoft Equation 3.0. (You may need to install it.)
  4. Click OK.
  5. Build the equation by selecting symbols from the Equation toolbar and by typing variables and numbers. From the top row of the Equation toolbar, you can choose from more than 150 mathematical symbols. From the bottom row, you can choose from a variety of templates or frameworks that contain symbols such as fractions, integrals, and summations.
  6. To return to Microsoft Word, click the Word document.

Equations are the scientific foundation of the oil and gas industry. They need to be absolutely correct, down to the smallest subscript, so proofread them carefully. Be sure to define each variable and the units that are assumed immediately after the equation. And try to keep the number of equations to a minimum, because most readers will just skim over them. In some journal articles, lengthy derivations can be placed in a sidebar box or in an appendix at the end so as not to detract from the flow or pace of the main article.

Don’t be afraid to use a few equations in your technical writing, because nothing shows that you really know your subject better than a good formula for how to calculate something important.

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