Speaking of which …

… when you set out to make a handout, something homebrew, not out of a supplemental, what computer program do you use?  Would all the regulars commenters stay regular and all the lurkers de-lurk?  For the sake of a tutorial I’d like to write, I need some answers.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. I go straight up Word, brah.

    Unless I’m rollin Mac style, then I go Word for Mac.

    I do this for compatibility sake, more than anything. I produce some snappy handouts, complete with shading and the like. I’d use more Google Docs but the formatting messes up too much.

    Nicer stuff, though, with links and the whatnot.

    Then again, Crucial Thought isn’t in your ‘roll.

    Love your stuff, Dan.

    Chris Craft

  2. Yo, brah, what’s this Crucial Thought business. I’ve been Googling to no avail for the last, like, twenty-three seconds.

  3. For anything that’s going to be copied and distributed to my students, I have to stick to black-and-white … so Word it is. I’ve tried OpenOffice, and it’s fine, but I already have Word and so does my school, so …

    Otherwise, it’s going on the website … in which case more attention to design and color come into play.

    For presentations, wikis and GoogleDocs have been useful. I’ve yet to take advantage of SlideShare because I’m just not a big PowerPoint person (though perhaps I should reconsider). Plus, I like that participants can correct or add to my presentation notes.

    Either way, space and lists are my friends when my goal is to communicate a certain set of ideas.

  4. Basic memo to staff — Word, word. (For Mac, natch.)

    But Excel does it for me sometimes, if I need tables and numbers and such…

    And I have been known to whip up a web-page, and print and post.

    In fact, for a few years, when I was posting all homeworks online and such, that’s what I did. I whipped up a really basic web page, printed it, and linked it to the Homework Reporting System that I wrote and we used at Beacon.

  5. Open Office, since it comes with a fine free equations editor. My school doesn’t have mathtype, and in any case I like Open Office’s non-WYSIWYG

  6. Oops, sent the previous message off before finishing: I like Open Office’s editor better than MathType, because I can write in the code instead of clicking for every. single. thing.

  7. I use Word for almost everything, but we’ve purchased Math Type as a school.

    I use Sketchpad and Fathom alot – Fathom for its nice, but simple, data displays. For graphing of functions and the like, I use Graphe Easy.

  8. I’d love some more input on this but from the early comments it seems like whatever we use for equation editing, our defacto choice for layout is Office, whether Microsoft or Open.

    Personally, I haven’t touched Word or Office in years so I’m curious if anyone uses an alternative for layout.

  9. Sorry, I’m chiming in as another Word person; I do revert to Excel or even PowerPoint depending on exactly what sort of handout/worksheet I’m working on. Back in my early teaching days, right after I left engineering, I could have done a really sweet handout using AutoCAD, which is excellent for doing mathematical stuff and figures in general, but sadly I’ve lost my technique (and I don’t have the $$$ to pay for AutoCAD). As Eric mentioned above, I’d be glad to use OpenOffice if I didn’t already have MS Office running on my desktop at school and my laptop at home.

  10. Greetings,
    I use Open Office for most of my handouts. In the past I’ve used, Word, Diploma 6 and sometimes the Brownstone Equation Editor.

  11. But ever since I learned about equation field codes in Microsoft Word I’ve switched and never looked back. Field codes is not the same as Equation Editor; Equation Editor/MathType is not efficient. Learning to use field codes allows you to do everything on the keyboard, so it’s fast (no stopping to mouse). It sets your work in the same font as the rest of your document (give it up for Comic Sans!). This means you can resize and make other typographic changes to the entire sheet at once. (So overheads in 22pt type are easy). If you use equation editor, you are stuck individually resizing each object. Search Word help for “eq” to learn more.

    I like to provide collaborating teachers with a document I’ve written that describes how to do use them. Feel free to remix, rework, whatever with attribution.

  12. Thanks Dan, for again starting thread of so much practical use to the rest of us. Here’s a lot of stuff I’ll need to tinker with over the summer. Prettier notes and worksheets next year, yar!

  13. I’ll second (or third, or fourth..) using Excel.

    I find it a lot easier to line things up in Excel over Word. I still do give out some hand written worksheets every now and then though. Can’t mess the formatting up on that.

  14. My geek cred is shot: I do all my worksheets with Word, MathType, and screen shots from OSX Grapher.

    But since I got that Latex plugin on my blog, I’ve been wanting to switch over to some kind of Latex formatter. I just can’t figure out if there’s any easy way to get diagrams into the mix. I remember in college that some kids figured out how to use Latex to type up their homework so that it looked just like the stuff the profs were handing out. At the time, I thought they were dorks. Which was true, but I still should have learned that stuff and I didn’t. Maybe over the summer…

  15. Word, which I hate, but which both the school and I own.

    I have a super-old, garage-sale copy of Photoshop LE, which I’ll use when I need to make something amazing, which is rarely.

  16. Pages, my friend, Pages. Since you’re already a Keynote user who is into graphic design, I suspect you may already use this.

    Pages has everything I need and none of the zillions of “features” of Word that I don’t need. And I find that working with text and graphics in Pages is way easier than in word. Obviously, the fact that nobody else uses it can be an issue for some people, but I manage to work around it most of the time.

  17. Word every time. The new version of MS office has some nice features that can allow you to publish directly to a blog as well without losing the formatting. That is something that I’ve been looking for awhile. I’ve come to appreciate the integration of word/excel/and powerpoint when necessary. Especially the ease of adding, and simple manipulation of simple graphics.

  18. To mrc: there is. You can draw your diagrams in xfig (which I believe is free) or anything really that’ll save a diagram in eps, jpg, pdf, gif … You then just use something like \include, or \import to put them in. Latex is cool, and math is pretty :)

  19. Tim, I’ve been using AppleWorks since day one. I haven’t upgraded yet, mostly for fear that my old files won’t convert to Pages, but I’m pretty excited about it. That and Keynote 3.

    For my part in this survey, the layout capabilities of AppleWorks run laps around that of Word. Maybe it’s just a matter of familiarity, but I second the love.

    Apple offers the same features with only a fraction of PowerPoint / Word’s screen real-estate. There seems little point in developing a tutorial for Pages/Keynote, given its niche appeal.

  20. As it has been stated, Word, Excel, PPT, and I am starting to use publisher. I use excel for everything since I do quite abit of mail merge, data entry and it works great. Coming from an administrators point of view using these programs is simple since every one seems to know how to open, use, and change most of them.
    I am excited about google docs and the possibility of using it for some data gathering in one place.

  21. “There seems little point in developing a tutorial for Pages/Keynote, given its niche appeal.”

    Agreed. Sadly, there’s not much point in teaching students and/or other teachers how to use Pages and Keynote. You should really check out Pages, though. If you’re used to Appleworks, it shouldn’t be too big of a transition. And I think it’ll open Appleworks files (there might be some translation issues, of course). And if you like the layout capabilities of Appleworks, you’ll _really_ like Pages. The Inspector that you’re probably using/enjoying in Keynote is also in Pages, putting all your editing needs in one clean, easy to use package.

    That being said, I’m keeping MS Word until the rest of the world catches on. But I’m not holding my breath… ;-)