Beginner here to mathstackexchange. I have a 'homework' question from a university course that I'm getting quite stuck on. Important Note: This is homework from a past course I've already completed and was non assessable anyway, I am just revising it for the next semester.

However, I'm wondering whether it's appropriate to post my question using only images of my working out? This is partly based off viewing this thread: What should I do when I see a "pic-question"?

This is just because my working out is quite thorough. As a student, although I love using latex, I am a beginner to it and don't think I can have enough time to type out my whole working out using it. I am happy to use mathjax for the parts where I feel are essential to just highlight however.

Please let me know if this is acceptable. An example of my working out is attached as a photo here. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Posting pictures to show your work can be taken down,By the way I was also very slow to start when posted my first questions,you may gain speed over time:) $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 3:50
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    $\begingroup$ At least your handwriting is decent. I could not do this when I started, because they would have redirected it to puzzling SE. That forced me to pick up MathJax from the beginning. Moral of the story : a terrible handwriting can be helpful. On the question itself, I don't think it will stand for too long, but I hope people have more patience, because your answer is more detailed than many others who post pictures. Good to see you checking Meta as well, +1 for that alone! $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ Although your handwriting is good, IMHO the beauty of mathjax fonts is the most compelling reason to learn and type math in it. I love those fonts (so much so that I try to emulate them in my handwriting sometimes). $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Jan 30, 2021 at 6:58
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    $\begingroup$ Let the charm of mathjax take over other sentiments and considerations here. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Jan 30, 2021 at 6:59
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    $\begingroup$ @LordCommander I wish that was the case. But the use of the dollar sign repeatedly is something you have to get used to, at least it was the case for me (otherwise I'm fast). Also the presentation : I think OP wanted to present his work literally the way it's printed in his picture i.e. text on left and right side, titles etc. Can't tell you how much I resonate with you, though. $\endgroup$ Jan 30, 2021 at 10:50
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    $\begingroup$ BTW, there are programs that can convert handwritten equations into LaTeX, eg mathpix.com That's a commercial program but it does have a free tier. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Jan 30, 2021 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ When @PM2Ring mentioned mathpix, it reminded me of some posts here on meta related to getting equations from scanned input: Extraction of Math -expressions with OCR from scanned photos?, What tools can be used to extract MathJax/LaTeX from scanned input? $\endgroup$ Jan 30, 2021 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @TeresaLisbon yeah, i know what you mean. This is what greenhorns miss though, in all fields actually. The struggle, the sluggishness is part of the journey and everyone has to go through it, no matter the level of dedication or interest to be able to contribute content and show effort. $\endgroup$ Jan 30, 2021 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @GildedCrowEscapee if you are directed to MathJax basic tutorial and quick reference will this help you to convert your text to Latex quickly? If not, what makes it complicate? $\endgroup$
    – miracle173
    Feb 1, 2021 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ @miracle173 Perhaps is, how to search there. It's very easy once you're familiar with the tutorial but.. if you're not, I see it kinda overwhelming $\endgroup$
    – user486983
    Feb 3, 2021 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ @miracle173 thank you for linking that. I just wanted to say that with the amount of detail in my working out, it just might be a bit too much for me to type out. However, now I understand the necessity of doing as much as possible of it :) $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2021 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ As a calibration, BTW, nothing on at least the page shown should be too challenging — it's just a few basic root signs, exponents and subscripts, and all of those are (in my experience) almost as easy to write in LaTeX as they'd be by hand. If you have more complicated structures that may be another matter, but I'd definitely say not to be too deterred by thoughts of complexity. $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2021 at 19:05

4 Answers 4


Please do your best to write this up using MathJax. This makes your post much more readable, searchable, and accessible. If you're worried about the process of formatting it in MathJax taking too much time, I would recommend breaking it up in to chunks and saving your draft on your computer in a text file (or email draft, or as a post in the sandbox for drafts of long posts). As an added bonus, you'll probably get faster at MathJax by doing this!

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    $\begingroup$ thank you for the tip, I'll try to do it. Is it acceptable if I do my best to write it up in mathjax, but there are parts I cannot transcribe, that I can post those parts as a (clear) photo? With disclaimer of course. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 9:41
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    $\begingroup$ @GildedCrowEscapee That is absolutely fine in my eye. Of course, you can post pictures of diagrams and flowcharts which are a little more difficult to do here. But you can type in the math : which is most of your page above. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 9:48
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    $\begingroup$ @TeresaLisbon Thank you for clarifying. I just also wanted to ask what if there are parts that are transcribable (ie. math) but I am getting stuck on them and don't have time to fix it up? Would it be acceptable to just take a photo of that then? $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 9:53
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    $\begingroup$ @GildedCrowEscapee I would say : type as much as you can, that you are sure of. Put a photo of the rest. But make sure you type as much as possible, the more the merrier. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 9:54
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    $\begingroup$ If you've typeset as much as you can of your image but there's one small bit you can't figure out how to typeset, I think it would be acceptable to post it and include a statement like "I'm not sure how to typeset this, see image" for that small portion. If you're making a good faith attempt to typeset everything and get stuck once or twice, I think you will be able to find some help. (You may also be able to get help in chat or by searching the internet for what you want to typeset - most folks learn Latex/MathJax by looking at other's work.) $\endgroup$
    – KReiser
    Jan 28, 2021 at 10:03
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    $\begingroup$ emphasis on searchable! $\endgroup$ Jan 30, 2021 at 4:10
  • $\begingroup$ If you've got something that you can't figure out how to Latex, it sounds to me like you've got a good question for tex.SE. $\endgroup$ Feb 10, 2021 at 12:48

I want to amplify, perhaps a little more kindly, on @TonyK's "you're just being lazy" answer.

Everyone answering your questions is volunteering their time, in trade for silly internet "reputation points", and perhaps for the satisfaction that they get from showing they know something, or the satisfaction of having helped someone, or perhaps other motivations.

You, on the other hand, are getting something for (almost) nothing.

In trades like this, respect is a key element. If you say "I want you to do this work for me, but I can't be bothered with following your rules," you're likely to get fewer and worse answers. ("Worse" because low-reputation folks eager for points may choose to answer, while folks with established competence may be put off.)

Having a slight "cost" to question-askers is also useful in a lot of ways. It makes the asker start by asking "is it worth my time to type this up coherently, or would it be simpler to just spend more time thinking through it myself?", which is something I think many MSE folks find desirable. If we didn't have that barrier to question-asking, we'd have folks posting photos of their whole homework assignments saying "do this for me", and that does no good for anyone.

Your particular question is a tough one: it's fairly basic, but typing in all that stuff is a pain, esp. when you're new at it. And you've done a lot of work already, which tends to make answerers more eager to help out. Still, because of the need to index questions (SEO, as mentioned in another answer), and because of a desire to make filtering out bad questions easier, "picture of my problem" questions aren't allowed, and yours gets caught on the wrong side of the somewhat-arbitrary dividing line.

Anyhow, the key point is "You do a little work for us, and we're more likely to do a little work for you."

BTW: If you want to really annoy people, ask a question, wait for answers, then change the question saying "oops, I forgot to say ...", get more answers, change the question again saying "oops...typo: that "17" should have been a "19" instead", get more answers, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ And to -really- annoy people, finish up by deleting the question. (Though that tends to bring the wrath of mods for question vandalism.) $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2021 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ "Having a slight "cost" to question-askers is also useful in a lot of ways. It makes the asker start by asking "is it worth my time to type this up coherently, or would it be simpler to just spend more time thinking through it myself?"" - also, I find that in the vast majority of cases, I identify the answer to my problem in the process of expressing it coherently. $\endgroup$ Feb 10, 2021 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @user3482749 Yes, exactly. $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Jul 28, 2022 at 10:21

I rarely bother to read handwritten questions, especially if I'm on my phone.

As others have said, we strongly encourage you to post your questions using MathJax, for a variety of reasons. We understand that you may be pressed for time, but our time is precious too. Also, using MathJax shows that you've invested some time & energy into presenting your question, and that makes us more inclined to help you. If you can't spend 10 or 20 minutes writing MathJax, why should I spend my time writing an answer for you? For a well-asked question, I'm prepared to spend hours writing and improving an answer so that it will help not just the OP but hopefully many future readers as well.

Yes, it takes time to learn and to write MathJax, but you do get faster with practice. The system (currently) used on this site is quite nice to work with because of the near-instant preview. We don't expect your MathJax to be perfect, and people will be happy to help you get it right, or make edits to fix things that didn't quite work. But we do expect you to make some effort to learn MathJax / LaTeX.

In the mean time, if you really must post an image, please try to make it neat and clear, with good lighting and no shadows, and no crossed-out material or inscrutable little blobs. Use a clean page, not one with pen impressions on it, or with anything showing through from the other side. Also, the image must be oriented correctly. Images of text rotated sideways are extremely annoying.

A somewhat plea to not post images of text


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    $\begingroup$ The image at the last is a advice which contradicts itself and illustrates your point very well. +1 $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Feb 1, 2021 at 6:58
  • $\begingroup$ +1 If possible, please also incorporate this sentiment into your answer? The short of it is that could users (be aware that not everyone does computing with a smartphone and) PLEASE not post images that are oriented sideways. $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Jul 28, 2022 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @ryang Good idea. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Jul 28, 2022 at 14:31

One way is to type out specific parts of your working in the input tab of Desmos. Since it is a WYSWYG system, it is tremendously easier, then you can just copy and paste it into your question/answer. All you have to do is add '\$ \$'. For example:

enter image description here This took me about a 2 minutes to type, and to put it here I just copy and paste it


then add '\$ \$' $$\frac{\sin\left(2n^{2}+\frac{\cos^{-1}\left(2\tan\left(\frac{3}{4x}\right)-1\right)}{2\tan\left(e^{kt}\right)}\right)}{\cos\left(\frac{e^{2}}{2kt^{2}}\right)}$$

(would've taken a lot of time to type the $\LaTeX$).

As a plus point, notice how Desmos even automatically adds '\left' and '\right'.

(Suddenly, it feels as if I'm advertising Desmos here.)

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    $\begingroup$ +1 something I did not know $\endgroup$ Feb 7, 2021 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ How do you write the 'LATEX' word with the letters in a style? $\endgroup$
    – sato
    Feb 8, 2021 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ \$\LaTeX\$ --> $\LaTeX$ $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Feb 8, 2021 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ That's just brilliant, really is, should be recommended to newbies. $\endgroup$ Feb 10, 2021 at 5:53
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    $\begingroup$ @TeresaLisbon not just newbies ,I found this super fast rather than actually typing in mathjax great answer! $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2021 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ @AlbusDumbledore I see. Maybe a WYSIWYG interface is useful after all! $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2021 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC This can be improved by adding \rm, like $\rm\LaTeX$ $\endgroup$
    – soupless
    Feb 27, 2021 at 10:35
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    $\begingroup$ I knew Desmos was nice and I even knew about this feature but never put two-and-two together! $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2021 at 10:53
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    $\begingroup$ When Desmos can do commutative diagrams, I'll be in heaven. :) $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2022 at 15:23

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