Introduction to MathML: Quick Guide

MathML msup element example

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Guide: Introduction to MathML: Quick Guide

MathML is a markup language that can be used for display math notationsYou can use MathML tags directly from HTML5. It’s useful if you want to show more than simple math notations on your web pages, and it’s quite easy to use due to the simplicity and resemblance to HTML

MathML has two types of markers; presentation (for layout) and content (for meaning). Since only the presentation format is supported by browsers, it is the only format that can be used with HTML. You can also use CSS and JavaScript on it, just like with HTML.

Let’s take a look at MathML.

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Understanding MathML

There is a list of current MathML elements on the Mozilla Developer website. I’ve also listed the elements used in the examples at the end of this post for quick reference.

The top-level element in MathML is the element

. When you write MathML code in the HTML, don’t forget to include it within the


, , , are the basic elements that represent an identifier, operator, number and string respectively. Note that all MathML elements below start with the letter ‘m’.

Here are some simple examples.

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How to Display superscript and subscript

It element is for displaying superscript. There is a for subscriptions.


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How to Display fractions


MathML mfrac element example

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How to Display root integers

Here is another simple example of how to display integer numbers.


MathML mroot element example

Only for square root there is .

Now let’s move on to more complex notations, the matrix.

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How to Display a matrix

To create a matrix we need a table structure for rows and columns. For this we use , and .

Apart from that, we will review the tags to add the operators [ and ] around the matrix and finally place them all in the element , an element that groups expressions.

Here’s the end result:

[ </mo><mtable><mtr><mtd> <mn>0</mn> </mtd><mtd> <mn>4</mn> </mtd><mtd> <mn>10</mn> </mtd></mtr><mtr><mtd> <mn>5</mn> </mtd><mtd> <mn>2</mn> </mtd><mtd> <mi>X</mi> </mtd></mtr><mtr><mtd> <mn>9</mn> </mtd><mtd> <mn>11</mn> </mtd><mtd> <mn>1</mn> </mtd></mtr></mtable><mo> ]

Let’s also add some CSS to make that ‘X’ stand out in the matrix.

mi {color: red;}

MathML matrix example

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How to Display integral equations

Below is an example of a basic type of integral equation. The is used to add the limits to the integral.

MathML integral example

Like HTML, MathML also has characters and entities, one of which is used in the example to represent the Greek phi symbol. Here is how to show the integral equation above:

f(X) = < / mo> & Integral; a b K. < mo> ( X , t ) & phi; ( t ) d t < / mrow>

For a list of MathML drawing entities, click here to find them on the W3C website.

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MathML Features

Aside from attributes that are the same as HTMLs (such as id), MathML also has a set of their own attributes. The Mozilla Developer site has a collection of MathML attributes for reference. For fallbacks, you can use the MathJax JavaScript library. Check out this link here if you need more tools.

I say goodbye with this codepen that includes all of the above examples, for your convenience.

See Preethi’s Pen MathML samples (@rpsthecoder) on CodePen.

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Reference list of MathML elements

Top level MathML element
Displays IDs (variables, constants, function names)
Displays numeric literal values
Displays operator
Displays literal string
Adds a superscript to a base
Links a subscription to a base
Used to represent fractions
Displays radicals with indices
Displays square root
Displays a table or matrix
Row of
Column in
Groups sub expressions
Used to add superscript, subscript, presuperscript, and presubscript
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