Math Typesetting for the Internet

Math Notation in Email Messages or Web Forms

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Communicating about mathematics via email can be difficult, because you must work within the restrictions imposed by your mail program. You can either (1) try to represent mathematical expressions in the body of your message using only the standard character set, or (2) send typeset documents as attachments.

If you would like to talk about math in a web form (such as this Dr. Math submission form), you are limited to what you can type into the form window. Typing math in a web form involves the same problems as typing it in the body of an email message.

  1. Math Notation in the Body of an Email Message or Web Form
    If you have ever tried to represent math symbols in an email message, you are aware of the limitations involved in doing so. Even if your mail program allows special typesetting, you shouldn't use it unless you're certain that the recipient of your message can process this information. To communicate with the broadest possible audience, you need to use only ASCII - the standard set of characters. Following are guidelines for and examples of ASCII math notation:

  2. Sending Attached Documents
    This method first requires that you know how to use some math typesetting program (such as MathType or TeX) to create the files. You also need to make sure that your mail program allows you to send attached documents. Assuming you've gotten this far, you still need to take into account whether or not the recipient of your message is able to accept attached files with their mail program. If they can, you will also need to make sure that they are able to read the particular type of file you are sending.

    The bottom line is, sending a math typeset document as an attachment is the right choice if you and the recipient of your message are comfortable using the technology at hand. If not, you might want to opt for ASCII notation method (1).


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