In the comments after a question, Peter Tamaroff mentioned using MathType. I am not familiar with that software. Apparently it is being blamed for such solecisms as

{ \int_{0}^{1} } { { x^{2} } }\,{ { {d}{x} } },

etc., where

\int_0^1 x^2 \, dx

would serve. I think the presence of so much of that sort of thing in math.stackexchange.com is a disservice to those who edit postings and learn how to code things in $\TeX$ and $\LaTeX$ by doing so.

Is MathType the principal source of this, or are there others?

Is the terrible practice of using \mbox{} instead of \text{} also the fault of MathType? In the normal use of $\TeX$ and $\LaTeX$, as opposed to its use in web forums, \mbox{} does not cause things to appear in text mode that would otherwise be in math mode, and serves a completely different purpose that seems inapplicable to forums on the web.

  • $\begingroup$ I have answered your concern, I hope. $\endgroup$
    – Pedro Mod
    Apr 27, 2012 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ Well, you haven't answered the question about \mbox. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2012 at 23:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Hmph... as I recall from my days with $\TeX$, using \mbox{} does cause things to appear in text mode; anything inside the \mbox is processed in paragraph mode, even if inside math mode (I use to use it to do cases when typing in plain-$\TeX$, before I switched over to $\LaTeX$). $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2012 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ I guess this is related to the earlier questions meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/3299/… and meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/3669/tex-style-manual $\endgroup$ Apr 30, 2012 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


I think that MathType produces these types of enconding for the sole reason it has templates for each type of symbol.

Say I need to use $$\sum\limits_{\square}^{\square}\square$$

Then the template will look as a fill in the blanks thing, like this:

$$\sum\limits_{}^{} {} $$

When one fills it in the interface, the program fills the {} accordingly, and you get what you want. $$ $$ Simiarily, say if i want to use $$\int_{\square}^{\square}\square$$ the template will be

$$\int\limits_{}^{} {} $$

The third pair of {} is where the integrand goes. So what you see is a union of all these to be filled $\{$ and $\}$

I personally know some $\TeX$, but coding lots of equations makes me waste time, so when I need to code something like this I use it.

  • $\begingroup$ How do things like y = { \left( { x + 2 } \right)\left( {x+3} \right)} instead of y=(x+2)(x+3) get there? $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2012 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Is MathType also responsible for the misuse of \mbox? $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2012 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ MathType has a $\left( \square \right)$ template for delimiters. It is the same as what I just explained. I don't think \mbox stems from MT. $\endgroup$
    – Pedro Mod
    Apr 27, 2012 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ The template code would be $$\left( {} \right)$$ $\endgroup$
    – Pedro Mod
    Apr 27, 2012 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ That last one seems like a clear case where the braces serve no purpose. With something like \int_{}^{}, the braces serve a purpose when the subscript or superscript has more than one character. But in \int_{}^{}{}, the last set of braces seems to serve no purpose, and likewise in the last example you mention. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2012 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy Well, then you have to talk to the MT developers. They'll sure have a reason why to include them. $\endgroup$
    – Pedro Mod
    Apr 27, 2012 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ Does MathType involve pointing and clicking? If so, I would think it would be slow and cumbersome compared to just typing the $\TeX$ code. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2012 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy My problem with coding is my keyboard, as opposed to the English one, has not a direct key to { , } , \ or ^, but I rather need AltGr and Shift for each one. It makes it a pain in the ....arm to type them. $\endgroup$
    – Pedro Mod
    Apr 27, 2012 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy: I can't speak to the MathType-$\mathrm\LaTeX$ conversion, but it is quite possible to use MathType entirely from the keyboard and be mighty fast with it. $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Apr 28, 2012 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterTamaroff: I recommend switching to some kind of English keyboard when you need to use a lot of those symbols. It doesn't take long to get used to. My laptop keyboard has the German layout printed on it, but I use the US one most of the time. $\endgroup$
    – Tara B
    Apr 28, 2012 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Isaac Indeed, MT has lots of shortcuts to use. For example, Ctrl+I inserts an integral template, Ctrl+9 the delimiters, Ctrl+S the sum, Ctrl+H the superindex and Ctrl+L the subindex, etc. This makes coding quite fast if you have to ask. $\endgroup$
    – Pedro Mod
    Apr 28, 2012 at 13:36

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