Currently, stats, math, cstheory and physics have MathJax support which turns LaTeX code into equation.

At least on math, occasionally there are users that do not know this feature or don't know it's possible to use LaTeX (MathJax), resulting a badly formatted post.

I suggest that there should be a common "LaTeX/MathJax typesetting help" page for those sites that enabled MathJax support, like the "Markdown editing help" that is present on all sites. Preferably, there should also be a line

  • LaTeX equations $\sin^2 \theta$

in the "How to Format" on the right hand side.

See also: The MathJax help link should point to a more specific guide

  • 11
    Wait. Geeks aren't born knowing LaTeX? Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 15:36
  • 6
    You mean a MathJaX help. MathJaX =/= LaTeX. Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 15:41
  • @AndrewStacey: well, MathJax ≈ LaTeX-surrounded-by-dollar-signs
    – Kip
    Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 14:16
  • 5
    @Kip: *shakes head sadly at the ignorance of youth*. I \emph{guess} it depends on what \textbf{you} mean by \LaTeX\ really. Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 14:24

4 Answers 4


This is basically completed, but I can't find a good help / demos page to link to for MathJaX.

There is this:


but oddly it requires users to "view source" before showing them the markup required, which is ... annoying.

Per suggestion, I am now changing it to


  • 2
    Maybe you can pop a question on meta.math.se and ask the good people there to write one? Not sure how much work it would take though.
    – Yi Jiang
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 6:50
  • @YiJiang: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/68388/…. (I'm putting it here instead of meta.math.SE as this is not just a math.SE feature.)
    – kennytm
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 19:26
  • I found the Wikipedia formula-writing page very helpful: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Displaying_a_formula
    – Kip
    Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 3:17
  • Jeff, this was added as a comment to the meta.math post, but I'll repeat it here so you're more likely to see it- the help box is almost perfect, but MathJax will render the $\sin^2 \theta$ in it, so what the user actually sees is "MathJax equation sin² θ", which isn't correct. It has to be wrapped between <code/> tags or <span class="tex2jax_ignore"/> tags to avoid MathJax parsing it.
    – Kip
    Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 3:19
  • 1
    I just spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how to do a simple subscript. Sending me off to mathjax.org/demos frankly wasted my time as I vainly clicked around looking for help. Please don't provide that link any more as there's no obvious way to get any syntax help! I wrote the MathJax people directly and they suggested math.harvard.edu/texman. Would you please consider changing your link on the question-asking page to point there instead? It will save your users much wasted time and frustration.
    – ErikE
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 20:19
  • @emt sure I can change it to that, checking that change in now. Commented Jan 22, 2011 at 0:51
  • Thanks a lot. There may be better resources out there (in fact, the MathJax folks asked me to keep them posted if a better one is found) but for now that one is at least adequate and did have syntax help like I was expecting.
    – ErikE
    Commented Jan 22, 2011 at 2:22

Let's write our own help page for our use of MathJax. Here is a start. It is based on Stack Overflow's own Markdown editing help, the FAQ for typing math on math.SE and Math Overflow, and "Using LaTeX" on ask NRICH.

Characters in bold italics indicate highlighting.

MathJax turns LaTeX markup into beautiful formulae

This site supports typesetting mathematical formula with AMS-LaTeX markup, powered by the MathJax rendering engine.

Entering math mode

Surround the TeX code with dollar signs to insert an inline equation

The integers $x,y,z$ form a Pythagorean triplet when $x^2 + y^2 = z^2$.

and use double dollar signs to insert an equation in its own line

The Bessel functions $J_n(x)$ and $Y_n(x)$ are
solutions to the Bessel equation
$$ x^2 y'' + x y' + (x^2 - n^2) y = 0 $$
where $n$ is a constant.

Basic LaTeX markup

  • Superscript and subscript — x^2, a_n, a_{n+1}, H_n^{(2)}

  • Spacing — a\ b (text space). Other kinds of spacing.

  • Square root and radicals — \sqrt{x}, \sqrt[3]{x}

  • Fraction — \frac{a}{b}

  • Sum and integral — \sum_{k=0}^n k^2, \int_0^1 x^3 dx

  • Greek letters — \alpha (α) to \omega (ω); \Gamma (Γ) to \Omega (Ω)

  • Symbols — \ne (≠), \ge (≥), \le (≤), \sim (∼), \pm (±), \to (→), \infty (∞), etc.

  • Function names — \sin, \cos, \log, \lim, etc.

Visit Detexify2 to lookup command for a symbol.

Check the MathJax documentation for the complete list of commands supported.

Show source

Right-clicking on any equations should reveal a context menu. Clicking "Show source" will open up a new window showing the LaTeX markup that generates it.

Need More Detail?

The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2e is a good beginner's guide on the LaTeX system.

  • Let's get this up! Right now the link provided is not helping anybody.
    – ErikE
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 20:20
  • Lack of proper docs & examples is actually getting worse, as even more fantasy-themed sites such as Worldbuilding are supporting it, but only link to mathjax.org, which only links to docs.mathjax.org which has LaTeX links to the glossary of docs.mathjax.org which links to wikipedia.org/wiki/LaTeX... 15 clicks and 3 deliberate searches later to find something that resembles respectable docs just to type $\Delta$. This may be the opportunity for SO Docs to step up as the de-facto resource.
    – IT Bear
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 20:47

I brought this up on meta.math and was directed to this question. I thought I'd share the mockup here too, showing what I'd like:

alt text

  • Heyo, and guess what happened! At least on math.SE Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 20:31

A much much more detailed MathJax tutorial/reference has been created on Math.SE: MathJax basic tutorial and quick reference

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