I am creating a training video on Calculus using my Mac, and I need to enter mathematical symbols such as integration and summation signs on my video. (The video is just a screen capture of me writing equations in sequence on the screen, until the solution is derived)

I bought a Wacom tablet thinking I would just hand-write everything on a graphics app and capture it in Camtasia. However it is difficult to draw a good looking symbol by hand using these devices

So now I am thinking to use type, but then how do you type an integral between limits without a lot of preparation for each equation, to produce things that look like this or this.

Does anyone know of a good way to type math symbols directly onto a screen in real time (or very near)?

MS Word has an equation editor, but I would like to type character by character, and the equation editor forces you to set all of the characters and then renders them into a single image.

  • Are you looking for a quick fix for this particular issue or do you want to learn to produce videos with simple animations in general?
    – timonsku
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 18:53
  • I have done some pretty fancy video editing in the past. I am not an expert, but with Camtasia, you really don't need to be. But since you asked, you got me curious, what are you offering? Commented May 28, 2014 at 2:22
  • Actually I would have suggested something very similar to Craig's answer. After Effects is great for any sort of typography animation.
    – timonsku
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 14:25

3 Answers 3


You could be clearer about what 'on my video' means. Does that mean: composited with other moving pictures in your video; or does it mean: in a sequence all by itself that's edited into your video? Or something else? And what video tools can you use?

For compositing use a compositing tool like Adobe After Effects. After Effects would also be perfect for building the 'typing on' sequence of symbols that you want.

If you don't have access to After Effects, why not build your sequence as a set of Photoshop layers which you can then export as an image sequence. Import that sequence into Quicktime (Pro), then re-export as a .mov using a codec that makes sense for you project. If you don't have access to Photoshop you can still do this with any cheap graphics software. Just 'manually' output identically sized images and name your output files sequentially. Tell Quicktime Pro to import them as a sequence.

Another idea:

  1. create a single good image (similar to the ones that you provided links for) of the complete expression or equation that you want to 'type on' the screen.

  2. import into Adobe Illustrator or PhotoShop.

  3. create a series of white 'masks' (just rectangles) to cover each term in the expression or equation) and put each one on it's own layer, in the sequence in which you'll want them revealed.

  4. De-select the eyeball on each layer, in sequence, to hide the 'mask' for that layer and reveal each term in sequence. Run Camtasia as you do this and you'll have the 'typed-on' movie you're looking for. You could pre-record your audio so that you'd have a good sense of timing for the reveal of each term.

  • I modified the original question according to your suggestion. It is just a video of me solving an equation step by step, until the final step contains the solved equation. I am talking in the background explaining each step in the proof. Think of a math teacher writing his proof on a whiteboard, while he is talking through it. The whiteboard is my computer. I am using Camptasia to capture the screen, and will edit out any blips using Camtasia studio after the video is captured. Commented May 27, 2014 at 15:29
  • 1
    Since you already have a Wacom digitizer just work with software, like Adobe Illustrator, that lets you set the width of the stroke until you have something you like. With a little practice you can get a perfectly good 'white-board' simulation like that.
    – Craig
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 19:23
  • Another choice is to do as you suggest, directly in Camtasia. You can add a mask over parts of the video, and expose more over time until to look almost like typing. Commented May 28, 2014 at 2:24

My personal advice, stick with your original plan and keep practicing with the tablet. It's a little more time and effort initially, but most technical measures to do it with text are going to be far more elaborate and technical. It is perfectly possible to make good looking hand-writing with a tablet once you get used to it and it will probably require less overall effort unless you are pretty technically inclined to begin with.

A similar option is LiveScribe pencasts. LiveScribe makes an actual pen that you use with special paper you buy or print out. It captures what you write as you write it and certain models can even be used as a non-pressure sensitive tablet. This lets you see what you are writing, which makes it a lot more natural feeling compared to a digitizer tablet, even if the digitizer does a better job after you get used to it.

  • I am pretty technical, no problem with markup languages or TeX. Your Livescribe solution sounds cool. I am not sure I can ever get my tablet to produce true handwriting like a pen. I have looked at some videos on YouTube, and the best ones are where they have a video camera pointing to a page. The ones that use a tablet never seem to come out as good. Commented May 27, 2014 at 15:33
  • 1
    @VictorGrazi - part of that is that people are a little disconcerted by text just appearing drawn. We associate drawing with a hand being there because that's what it looks like to us when we do it. With digitizers, brush selection and tweaking is also super important to achieve a natural look, but it takes a lot of practice.
    – AJ Henderson
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 16:01
  • you are exactly right, that is exactly why I want to type it character by character, and why I want it to be WYSIWYG. I will edit out any tweaks from the video Commented May 27, 2014 at 16:16
  1. Whiteboards can record anything you put on them (including commentary). Play them back on your PC and record via Camtasia? No good if you want to do it at home though.

  2. Camtasia has a plug-in for Powerpoint. Not sure if you'd get the symbols you need though.

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