MathGroup Archive 2002

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Using Text Cells

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg36854] Using Text Cells
  • From: "David Park" <djmp at>
  • Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2002 02:55:21 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In receiving notebooks from many different people I have noticed that
beginners often do not know how to use Text cells and write all of their
comments as Input cells. I have even run across some extremely advanced
users who did not know the easy method for entering Text cells. A good
notebook is usually a blend of Text cells, Input/Output cells and graphics
cells. Text cells are very useful for documenting what you are doing and
passing information to other people. Since many people do not know how to
use Text cells, I thought I would write a little explanation for beginners
who are followers of MathGroup.

The very easiest method for entering a Text cell is to put the insertion
point where you want the new cell to be (at the end of the notebook or
between two existing cells) and then type Alt-7. Then just start typing and
you will have a Text cell.

Alternatively you can use Menu\Format\Style\Text to start a new Text cell.

Often, it is useful to put the ToolBar at the top of the notebook. Use
Menu\Format\Show ToolBar. The drop-down menu on the ToolBar has the various
kinds of cells available for the current style of the notebook. You can
select Text (or any other style) from there.

Some users may hesitate to use Text cells because they want to include a
mathematical expression in the comments. However, that is also very easy.
Just use an Inline cell within the text cell. At the point within the text
cell where you want to include a mathematical expression, start an Inline
cell by typing Ctrl-(. A selection placeholder will appear on a pink
background. You can type a Mathematica expression there just as in an Input
cell. Use Ctrl-) to complete the Inline cell, or Shift-Space. You can even
select an Inline cell and evaluate it with Shift-Ctrl-Enter.

Putting comments in Text cells is far better than using Input cells (or cell
group header cells). Mathematica won't try to evaluate Text cells, the text
will wrap properly and adjust better to the notebook width if you change it.
You can also check the spelling of words by putting the cursor after a word
and using Ctrl-K. (In an Input cell Mathematica doesn't use the dictionary,
but uses the table of symbols instead and hence it won't check spelling.)

David Park
djmp at

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