Tools to Display Math on Web

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Tools to Display Math on Web

Xah Lee, 2010-04-13, 2010-12-04

Found 2 tools to write math for the web:

FireMath, a MathML Editor for Firefox

FireMath is a MathML editor as a Firefox plugin. Home at:


MathJax. Home at:

MathJax is an open-source JavaScript display engine for LaTeX and MathML that works in all modern browsers. It was designed with the goal of consolidating the recent advances in web technologies into a single, definitive, math-on-the-web platform supporting the major browsers and operating systems. It requires no setup on the part of the user (no plugins to downlaod or software to install), so the page author can write web documents that include mathematics and be confident that users will be able to view it naturally and easily. One simply includes MathJax and some mathematics in a web page, and MathJax does the rest.

MathJax uses web-based fonts (in those browsers that support it) to produce high-quality typesetting that scales and prints at full resolution (unlike mathematics included as images). MathJax can be used with screen readers, providing accessibility for the visually impaired. With MathJax, mathematics is text-based rather than image-based, and so it is available for search engines, meaning that your equations can be searchable, just like the text of your pages. MathJax allows page authors to write formulas using TeX and LaTeX notation, or MathML, a World Wide Web Constortium standard for representing mathematics in XML format. MathJax will even convert TeX notation into MathML, so that it can be rendered more quickly by those browsers that support MathML natively, or so that you can copy and past it into other programs.


Detexify is a tool that lets you draw a math symbol and it shows you the code for LaTeX. The tool is created by Daniel Kirsch. At

See also: Math Symbols in Unicode.

If you are a emacs user, you can set your emacs up so that any frequently used symbols can be entered by a single shortcut key, or a abbreviation. See: Emacs and Unicode Tips.


Of course, you can get Mathematica. Student or hobbyist can get it for ~$295. This would be the best option.

Mathematica home page at:

For a example of its output, in PDF, HTML, MathML/XML, see: Math Typesetting, Mathematica, MathML.



The technology to display math notation on the web browser, is really dismal. MathML is released in 1998. Now, it is over 10 years, but it is still not widely supported in web browsers. Authors need to invest huge amount of time experimenting with several solutions, and in most cases, requires knowledge of html, css, xml, MathML, javascript, TeX, to various degrees. One early solution is to resort to some tool turn math notations into images. This means, the browser needs to load a huge bunch of images, and the images are ugly, not scalable, cannot be copy and pasted. Images for math notation are still widely practiced today. Another solution in to require readers to download some special plug-in. Another solution is to simply discard the web and use PDF instead.

In the past 10 years, huge amount of web technologies have developed, from blogs to wikis to instant messaging to twitter to interactive road maps to online videos to voice and video chats, but when it comes to math, sadly, the situation is rather stagnant. This is, of course, because relatively very few people need it. Perhaps 0.01% of web users.

What Wikipedia Use?

Wikipedia, which is one of the largest math encyclopedia online, uses images mixed with some html. (See: Help:Displaying a formula) More specifically, it uses a home cooked markup “<math>«body»</math>”, where the “body” is a subset of simple LaTeX code, and on the fly it processed by Texvc to generate images with some html markup.

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