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Re: MultiLine Formula (formatting w/brace)

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg45541] Re: MultiLine Formula (formatting w/brace)
  • From: Paul Abbott <paul at>
  • Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 04:03:55 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: The University of Western Australia
  • References: <btthni$sno$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <btthni$sno$1 at>,
 "Bruce W. Colletti" <bcolletti at> wrote:

> Re Mathematica 5.0.
> In a text cell, I want to write a piecewise function...
> f(x) = 5x, x < -2
>          7x, x in [-2,3]
>          6x, x > 3
> ...displayed with a lefthand side big curly brace that covers all lines 
> top-to-bottom, together with centering the "f(x) = " on brace-center.
> How would I do this?  I've put the righthand side into a 3x2 table and 
> using the BasicTypesetting palette, choose the curly brace button.  This 
> nearly works except that righthand side "blank lines" destroy the 
> otherwise perfect look.  The problem persists when I change brace size 
> (using Format/Size).

This was covered by Neil Soiffer in the Tricks of the Trade column of 
The Mathematica Journal 8(1):

Very large brackets and braces for their common uses in Mathematica 
(function call, lists) can look silly. Hence, as defined in, they are set to grow to at most "2.01" (factor of 
two, with a fudge factor) times their normal size when SpanMaxSize is 
set to Automatic. Spanning can be controlled by selecting 

  Expression Input | Spanning Characters | Expand Indefinitely 

from the Edit menu. Alternatively, if you use the Option Inspector and 
type in Span you will see the Spanning Character Options. You can set 
SpanMaxSize around the character, at the cell level, notebook level, or 
globally. You may not be happy with what the brackets and braces look 
like for function calls and lists, though. Here is the result of setting 
SpanMaxSize -> Infinity at the character level.

There is another problem: in each case the opening bracket is displayed 
in color, indicating that it is unmatched. In TraditionalForm, a better 
alternative is to close off the unmatched left bracket with 
\[AutoRightMatch] (or \[EscapeKey]\right.\[EscapeKey]) which keeps 
things properly bracketed. This will not work for StandardForm unless 
you set DelimiterMatching->None for the cell (or any larger scope). Here 
is the result of closing off the unmatched left bracket.


Paul Abbott                                   Phone: +61 8 9380 2734
School of Physics, M013                         Fax: +61 8 9380 1014
The University of Western Australia      (CRICOS Provider No 00126G)         
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley WA 6009                      mailto:paul at 

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