# Free text editor with custom shortcuts for inserting symbols?January 9, 2010 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Is Microsoft Word the only text editor that allows user-definable shortcuts for inserting symbols?

I need to create shortcuts to insert mathematical symbols, so I don't have to go through menus or copy and paste every time. OpenOffice Writer doesn't allow this, nor does AbiWord. Is MS Word the only option?
posted by Eiwalker to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)

Best answer: Can you bind a macro?
posted by ropeladder at 6:30 AM on January 9, 2010

Response by poster: Awesome! I had never heard of "binding a macro" before, but I just figured out how to do it with OpenOffice Writer. OpenOffice Writer appears to have built-in limitations on which user-definable key combinations are possible, but it does allow enough freedom for my purposes.
posted by Eiwalker at 6:50 AM on January 9, 2010

OpenOffice also has a mathematical formula editor under Insert > Object > Formula.
posted by nangar at 7:15 AM on January 9, 2010

There's documentation at
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Documentation/FAQ/Formula/

(links aren't working now)
posted by nangar at 7:18 AM on January 9, 2010

OpenOffice also has AutoCorrect (under Format - AutoCorrect - AutoCorrect Options ...), so you can change things like '+/-' to '±'.
posted by scruss at 7:22 AM on January 9, 2010

I take issue with calling Word a "text editor", but since you asked it that way... vi allows immediate replacements to happen in insert mode by mapping abbreviations with the abbr ex command:
:ab plusminus $\pm$
:ab quadraticeq $x={-b\pm\sqrt{b^2 - 4ac}\over 2a}$
:ab shrodingereq $i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial t} \Psi(\mathbf{r},\,t) \ = -\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\nabla^2\Psi(\mathbf{r},\,t) + V(\mathbf{r})\Psi(\mathbf{r},\,t)$

Anytime you type shrodingereq it will be replaced with the text of Schrödinger's wave equation for particles in three dimensions. You might be better off defining a command in LaTeX instead if you need it that often. That way you can change it in one place if the equation ever changes.

If you want to create commands that will be execute in command mode, use the map command:
:map Q gqap

posted by autopilot at 8:22 AM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

I take issue with calling Word a "text editor", but since you asked it that way... vi allows immediate replacements to happen in insert mode by mapping abbreviations:

Replace "text editor" with vi, replace vi with emacs.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:22 AM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you regularly have many formulas, then you might consider learning latex.

I think maple, mathematica, etc. all turn latex commands like \alpha into the appropriate symbol, so editors like open office might have plugins that preform the same conversion, well you could definitely write such a plugin for google wave.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:38 PM on January 9, 2010

If you're using windows and OO / abiword for the cheapness, autohotkey will create arbitrarily complex macros. The lifehacker editors lurve AHK. There are equivalents under linux (khotkeys, xmacro, xbindkeys) as well as pretty robust options to bind shortcuts under GNOME.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:16 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

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