The general rule used in LaTeX doesn't work: for example, typing M\"{o}bius and Cram\'{e}r doesn't give the desired outputs.

  • $\begingroup$ This might be how LaTeX is meant to handle it; it seems like the \" command doesn't naturally work in math mode (see here). I'm not sure what the way to get an umlaut on this site is other than directly as a unicode character or using \unicode{0x00E4} or something like that (in which case, it renders not italicized, which is troublesome) $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Dec 2 '15 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ Even I don't put them inside math mode, it still doesn't work. $\endgroup$ – Zhanxiong Dec 2 '15 at 2:57
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    $\begingroup$ Oh. Far as I know, MathJax only applies to math mode; everything else is handled by SE's markup. (e.g. \textbf{This text is bold} doesn't do anything). I suspect the best solution at the moment is just use unicode characters (though this involves copying and pasting and general annoyance). $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Dec 2 '15 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ All right, thank you for your reply. It makes sense. $\endgroup$ – Zhanxiong Dec 2 '15 at 3:02
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    $\begingroup$ If your problem is largely about typing the names of mathematicians respecting their national language conventions, then copy/pasting from this list is also an option albeit a kludgy one. Users familiar with these things have compiled that list. I do realize that you are aware of how the names are supposed to be spelled, and only ask for help with the input. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 2 '15 at 6:19
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    $\begingroup$ Well, how do you type "special characters" on a computer? There's nothing special about math.SE. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 2 '15 at 8:25
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    $\begingroup$ For the body of the post one can just use the HTML entities. They are often relatively easy to remember. For example ü gives u UMLaut so ü and ä gives ä etc. (It does not work in comments or titles though). It is a bit clunky but for titles and comments one can copy from the preview of a post. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 2 '15 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Solitary alternatively use htnl - they are easy to find. $\endgroup$ – martin Dec 3 '15 at 1:47

I also wanted to type Möbius, etc, just as in LaTeX, by typing M\"o... so I've made a userscript for that. To use it,

  1. Install a userscript manager (e.g., Tampermonkey extension for Chrome or Greasemonkey extension for Firefox)
  2. Click here to add the userscript.

Besides the common diacritics, the script enables shortcuts for "blackboard bold" letters and math operator names: see the readme file.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much, I can type Möbius now! $\endgroup$ – Zhanxiong Dec 2 '15 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ I updated the script: if you reinstall it (by clicking the same link) it will also replace \" followed by {o}. (The braces are unnecessary here, though.) $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 2 '15 at 3:28
  • $\begingroup$ Möbius and Möbius, fantastic, thanks again~ $\endgroup$ – Zhanxiong Dec 2 '15 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ Möbius seems to work for me. There doesn't seem to be a reason you should be in math mode if you are typing a word... $\endgroup$ – BenSmith Dec 2 '15 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @BenSmith I'm not sure why you mention math mode here; my userscript has nothing to do with math mode. It simply substitutes a character with a diacritic for a combination of other characters, and happens to borrow those combinations from the LaTeX text mode syntax. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 2 '15 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ Are you saying that you are having issues with accented characters in code mode then? Because regular text seems to appear just fine. $\endgroup$ – BenSmith Dec 2 '15 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ @BenSmith I do not think there is any issue with the appearance of accented characters. Rather the question is how to input them (most conveniently). The script in this answer allows to input them using LaTeX-like syntax (which normally would not work). $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 3 '15 at 17:15

It would be a misconception to consider the source of a post as somehow analogous to the source of a LaTeX document (not only diacritics but quite literally nothing works except of course the math-environment). Instead it is better to think of the source of a HTML page. The basic formatting is done via Markdown and HTML.

Only there is extra support for typesetting mathematics via MathJax, whose syntax happens to be similar to the one of LaTeX.

As a consequence special characters can be inserted for example

  1. by some direct method, for instance for many a user "é" or "ö" are just as easy to type as "n" (it is just some button on their keyboard), some combination of keystrokes (which one depends on the set-up), copy-paste.

  2. using the methods provided by HTML such as using the name of HTML entities with the systax &name; where "name" is the name of the character, which is at least sometimes is not that hard to remember. For a list see for example the relevant Wikipedia page.

I mention 1. as in LaTeX by default this is in fact not possible. For 2. it should be noted that this does not work in titles and comments, but creating the character in (the preview of) the body and copy-pasting is an option.


There are certain system-dependent ways to enter diacriticals and other special characters. For example, on a Macintosh computer running any operating system prior to 10.10 (Yosemite):

  • The keystroke combination option-U + vowel produces the vowel with an umlaut over it.
  • The keystroke combination option-E + vowel produces the vowel with an accent over it.

Further keystroke combinations for the Mac are listed here.

Beginning with Macintosh OS 10.10 (Yosemite) there is an even simpler way to produce such characters: simply press and hold the desired vowel key on the keyboard, and a palette of accented versions of that vowel will appear on screen.

Slightly more elaborate methods exist in Windows; see here and here.


If you use the standard implementation of Mathjax, the M\"{o}bius will not render.



will give:

$$ \ddot{o} $$

Probably this is helpful for some.

Another workaround is to specify another font for the text in Mathjax:

    styles: {
        ".MathJax .mtext": {
            "font-family": "sans-serif !important"

Or if you have access to the local HTML/CSS files:

.MathJax .mtext {
    font-family: sans-serif !important;
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ $\ddot{o}$ is most definitely not an ö $\endgroup$ – mrf Sep 21 '17 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ I know, but at least the font stays the same. Here you can compare both versions rendered: matheretter.de/rechner/tex/… - Unfortunately, it seems that the the \ddot{} is not working within a \text{} block. And yes, I wished it would work by default. -- PS: \"{o} is also no "ö" ;-) $\endgroup$ – Kai Noack Sep 21 '17 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ Actually a LaTeX \"{o} is an ö with the correct font encoding (T1 for example), but the big problem with $\ddot{o}$ is that the dots are horribly misplaced. I would hate to see my own last name written Wikstr$\ddot{o}$m. $\endgroup$ – mrf Sep 21 '17 at 12:23

Slightly less ugly than one answer offered is: \ddot{\mathsf a} $\ddot{\mathsf a}$ - but it's slightly bold and for all the extra typing it's better to find a webpage with the characters and copy/paste them (assuming you're using a cellphone or a keyboard without the characters).

You can copy them from here also: ä ö ü

Latin Ä ä Ǟ ǟ Ą̈ ą̈ B̈ b̈ C̈ c̈ Ë ë Ḧ ḧ Ï ï Ḯ ḯ K̈ k̈ M̈ m̈ N̈ n̈ Ö ö Ȫ ȫ Ǫ̈ ǫ̈ Ṏ ṏ P̈ p̈ Q̈ q̈ Q̣̈ q̣̈ S̈ s̈ T̈ ẗ Ü ü Ǖ ǖ Ǘ ǘ Ǚ ǚ Ǜ ǜ Ṳ ṳ Ṻ ṻ Ṳ̄ ṳ̄ ᴞ V̈ v̈ Ẅ ẅ Ẍ ẍ Ÿ ÿ Z̈ z̈

Greek Ϊ ϊ ῒ ΐ ῗ Ϋ ϋ ῢ ΰ ῧ ϔ

Cyrillic Ӓ ӓ Ё ё Ӛ ӛ Ӝ ӝ Ӟ ӟ Ӥ ӥ Ї ї Ӧ ӧ Ӫ ӫ Ӱ ӱ Ӵ ӵ Ӹ ӹ Ӭ ӭ

The only MathJax used in this answer is in the first sentence, the remaining characters can all be copy/pasted off of this webpage and onto another Stack Exchange edit or comment box, as-is.


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