There is a nice pretty markdown ref but no simple quick latex reference. I looked around in the faq and on meta.

I also googled for some latex reference and some of it looks slightly different from the math SE latex.

Anyway, I just think it would be helpful for the noobs like me to just have some basic latex syntax on the side under how to format!!

Almighty SE programmers, hear my pray, please add a small control to easily type in latex. Amen P.S. for the time being a small cheat sheet will do!

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    $\begingroup$ You can cheat (like I do) and use the CodeCogs LaTeX equation editor to form TeX expressions you can then paste into here. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ J.M. Wish I could +1 you but I dont have 15 rep yet! =( why cant the powers that be add, something like that, maybe not that fancy for math.SE, would make it so MUCH nicer!! $\endgroup$
    – gideon
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ Also useful if Detexify: you draw the symbol and it performs OCR to tell you the name of the symbol: detexify.kirelabs.org/classify.html $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ @978: Sorry, I'm too busy learning mathematics to find time to memorize $\LaTeX$ syntax. Mathematica is difficult enough as it is. ;P $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ LaTeX is easy-peasy. Just read the documentation for amsmath and amsthm and you're pretty-much good. $\endgroup$
    – 97832123
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ at the very least, they could mention to put latex in between $'s. $ /latex $. This would've saved me some time :) $\endgroup$
    – Stefan
    Commented Oct 30, 2010 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Stefan so true. Point Im trying to make here is a newbie is totally lost. Think = "hmm What's the $ for? Oh latex? haha whats that now!" math.SE is VERY helpful for students struggling with math, I happen to be one and also a programmer, and it was a little troublesome for me... I can't imagine a complete newbie showing up on math.SE and feeling undermined at how others have the magic to type in math equations! $\endgroup$
    – gideon
    Commented Oct 30, 2010 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ haha a guy just asked How do you guys get that funky formatting! math.stackexchange.com/questions/8452/make-x-subject-of $\endgroup$
    – gideon
    Commented Oct 31, 2010 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


For me the bibles of LaTeX are the Not So Short Introduction, the Short Math Guide, and the longer amsmath guide.

For general LaTeX use, these should really get you up to speed. The problem is that the TeX interpreter here loves to fight with the Markdown interpreter, and I really have no idea why certain decisions get made. For example, underscores are used for Markdown italics and for TeX subscripts, so if you have two in a single math expression, they can sometimes mess up all your math. The solution is to escape them with backslashes, when necessary. Similarly, LaTeX carriage returns are two backslashes but I've often needed four backslashes instead, so that each backslash is escaped.

I'd really appreciate it if whoever was in charge of this put together some sort of guide to how LaTeX works on this site.

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    $\begingroup$ My understanding is that the Markdown interpreter runs first, and then the TeX interpreter, MathJax, has to work with whatever is left. This explains both issues with italics and backslashes. $\endgroup$
    – user856
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ true, thanks so much paul, I really want to get the guys in charge to do something about this, especially because, i think the guys on math.se site expect you to always use latex.Would be nice for noobs to atleast read something about latex and some basic syntax. $\endgroup$
    – gideon
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ From personal experience, if I see a whole stack of equations that aren't formatted properly, I'm a lot more inclined to just not read the question. It's just that TeX'd equations are so much easier to read. And I'd guess that there's a general prejudice against non-formatted stuff. On the other hand, it's really not that hard to learn how to use, and you feel great about yourself when you do it. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ Looking back on that, I think I came on too harsh. What I should have said was that I'd rather not read badly-written-up math, and TeX, in general, looks better. It's possible for TeX'd math to look bad if the writing surrounding it is unclear, and it's possible for plaintext math to be perfectly readable if the author's good at getting their point across. Nevertheless, TeX helps, and knowing it will be helpful not only hear, but in any sort of scientific career. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 18, 2010 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ no worries, I get it, same for me, formatted coloured code always looks better to me... as opposed to unformatted code...It is important that math.SE users use latex, but the system does not facilitate this. I did know something about latex but even then, after searching around the faq I didn't find any and typed without it, then someone graciously changed it to latex 30 secs later! =P $\endgroup$
    – gideon
    Commented Oct 18, 2010 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ note that content between $$ is no longer parsed by Markdown: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1115/… $\endgroup$ Commented May 21, 2011 at 9:13
  • $\begingroup$ Here is the new address (URL) of the Short Math Guide for Latex by Michael Downes. $\endgroup$
    – Jiri Kriz
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 8:20

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