Mathematical typesetting differs in significant ways from typesetting
of ordinary text.
- The font family used in mathematics is called math italic. It is wider than
ordinary italics, with more space between characters.
- The spacing between symbols varies. For example, addition symbols
(+) usually have a good deal of space around them, while division symbols
(/) do not.
- Mathematics uses vertical space. Text is always line-oriented; one
dimensional. Mathematical symbols vary in height, and frequently involve
- Mathematics uses a variety of types of alignment. Piecewise-defined
functions, strings of equations, matrices, and many other mathematical
objects require special alignments that go far beyond the abilities
of simple tables.
- There are two modes for typesetting mathematics: an in-line mode that
does not separate the mathematical notation from the rest of the text,
and a display mode, in which equations occupy their own line, and are
centered. In display mode, expressions always take up more vertical
Word processing programs generally get these formatting issues wrong.
Although they produce a legible product, it is not of the quality of programs
designed specifically for mathematics. Moreover, since such programs are
line-oriented, they often must typeset mathematics as small images, instead
of addressing the typesetting issue directly. We will not use word processors
in this course. Instead, we will learn about two methods of mathematical
typesetting: MathML and LaTeX.