When it comes to writing equations on engineering paper, there are a few excellent software options I would recommend scientists and engineers consider. The best software will allow you to easily write both handwritten and typed equations, integrate with other engineering tools, and offer robust equation solving capabilities.
One top option is Microsoft OneNote. As part of the Microsoft Office suite, OneNote offers seamless integration with other Office programs like Word and Excel. Within OneNote, you can create digital engineering paper notebooks and add handwritten or typed equations painlessly. Its equation recognition capabilities are very reliable for interpreting both handwritten scratch work and more formalized typed expressions. OneNote also allows for rich equation formatting using LaTeX symbols and makes it simple to reorganize, copy, paste, and share equations across sections and notebooks. OneNote’s universal Windows, Mac, web, iOS, and Android apps ensure your equations stay accessible no matter what device you use.
Another strong contender is LaTeX, the custom markup language frequently used in scientific publishing and documentation. LaTeX was built from the ground up for writing mathematical expressions and equations. It supports an enormous range of predefined symbols and offers tools for displaying complex equations beautifully. While the learning curve is a bit steeper than other options, mastering LaTeX pays huge dividends in crisp, publication-ready equation formatting. Popular LaTeX editors like TeXstudio, Overleaf, and ShareLaTeX make the writing process more user-friendly. And LaTeX integrates nicely with other tools through its widespread document formats like PDF. When communicating technical work formally, LaTeX is an industry standard worth investing time to learn.
For engineering equations that require advanced symbolic math capabilities, Mathematica stands out as a premiere technical computing platform. Mathematica supports not just static 2D equation writing but dynamic symbolic, numeric, and computational math. With Mathematica, you can derive equations, solve systems, plot functions, and more to fully analyze and iterate on your work. Its intuitive notebook interface and powerful Math Input palette allow you to enter even the most complex expressions with ease. Additionally, Mathematica boasts a massive function library covering virtually every math topic an engineer might encounter. While its upfront costs are higher than other options, for cutting-edge technical applications Mathematica remains the gold standard.
And for a well-rounded option providing both handwritten note-taking flexibility and strong equation editing tools, I’d point engineers toward Maple. Maple offers digital notebooks like OneNote combined with a full-featured equation editor traditionally only found in desktop math applications. Within Maple notebooks, users can draw out scratch work by hand and also typeset publication-quality equations using its built-in mathematical typesetting system. Maple also excels at symbolic algebra, calculus, and broader technical problem solving like Mathematica. Yet its lower costs and more approachable interface introduce those strengths to a wider audience. Between handwriting, editing, and solving capabilities, Maple hits a sweet spot for many engineering use cases.
For different engineering equation writing needs, some top software recommendations include Microsoft OneNote for its integration and accessibility, LaTeX for publishing and documentation, Mathematica for advanced technical computing, and Maple as an all-in-one solution balancing handwritten notes and symbolic math tools. Evaluate your specific projects and collaboration preferences to determine which offers the best fit overall. But these programs will surely enable producing clear, organized equations to advance your engineering work.