Brackets around features

Bruce Hayes
Department of Linguistics

Put pretty feature matrices into your word-processed documents.

Microsoft Word

You can insert pretty feature matrices into your Word documents by inserting this file into them:


Instructions for use:

1. Click on the Brackets.doc link above.  It is a tiny Word document.  Save this document somewhere on your computer where you know where it will be, and don't mind it being there forever.
2. In the document in which you would like to place a feature matrix, go to the Insert menu and select File.
3. Find your Brackets.doc file where you put it earlier and click the Insert button.  You will see a formula that looks like this:

4. Put the cursor somewhere on this formula and hit Shift F9. (In Word 2004 for Macs: hold down CONTROL and click on the formula, then click Toggle Field Codes on the contextual menu.)  The formula will now look like:

    { EQ \b\bc\[(\a\al(x,y)) }

5. Replace x with the first feature you want, and y with the second feature.  Don't delete the comma, and don't put in any blank spaces.  By using more commas, you can add additional features if you like, for example:

    { EQ \b\bc\[(\a\al(+syllabic,+round,+low)) }

6. Now put the cursor on what you just did (anywhere inside the {}) and hit F9 again.  Voila:

7. You can speed up the process by making a macro to insert the x-y thingy.  Do this:  Tools, Macro, Record New Macro, Macro name = InsertBrackets, hit Keyboard button, Ctr Alt Shift B, r, Close, Insert, File, find your copy of Brackets.doc, hit the Insert button, hit the little square Stop Recording button.  Now when you type Ctr Alt Shift B, r, you'll get the x-y thingy.  (Note:  when you next close Windows, it will ask, "Save changes to".  Say yes.)

8. If you're curious about how it works, { EQ \b\bc\[(\a\al(x,y)) } is a Microsoft Word equation field.  Reading from left to right, it means:  { = begin field, EQ = equation field, \b = brackets, \bc = brackets on both sides, \[ = use square brackets,  ( = beginning of bracketed material, \a = list, \al = left justified, (x,y) = list consisting of x followed by y, ) = end of bracketed material, } = end of field.  You can learn more by typing equation field into the Word help search window.

Open Office

An Open Office user sent me an email containing advice on how to do these brackets in Open Office, a free and downloadable alternative to the Microsoft product.  I haven't checked this myself but am passing it on.   pdf document.

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Last updated November 25, 2009.