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Re: typesetting fractions

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg45923] Re: typesetting fractions
  • From: Paul Abbott <paul at>
  • Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2004 05:36:50 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: The University of Western Australia
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <buqmch$raa$1 at>, Garry Helzer <gah at> 

> For the last few years I have used Mathematica exclusively for
> technical writing, mostly because it gives me better control over
> figure placement and keeps everything in a single file. That said, it
> is nonetheless an aggravating experience in many ways. The
> subscript/quotient font size problem is a daily irritation. 

The rules for scripts and fractions, with the exception of the addition 
of ScriptMinSize (which is more general than TeX's limiting to two 
shrinkings), is identical.

> Here's my question. TeX does an excellent job in this regard. TeX has been 
> around since the '60s and is open source. Why doesn't someone at WRI just 
> look at how TeX does it and incorporate the rules? Why reinvent the
> wheel especially if the wheels you produce in house always seem to have
> corners on the rim?

Mathematica's typesetting (developed by Neil Soiffer, now at Design 
Science, Inc) *is* based on TeX's typesetting of math (appendix G of the 
TeX book). The fonts (developed by Andre Kuzniarek <mailto:andre at>)
are different, and TeX's fonts specify certain metrics that are used in 
TeX's typesetting, so the typesetting of math using the Mathematica 
fonts (which, IMHO, look much better than Knuth's computer modern) will 
look a little different, but not too different.  

> I keep a copy of the Summer-Fall 1999 issue of Mathematica in Education
> and Research in a file  cabinet just so I can look up how to change an
> unmatched bracket from pink to black whenever I want to define a
> multiline function (p. 87).

For multiline functions, it is appropriate to complain about poor or
inadequate documentation. The feature is there, in much the same way it 
is there in TeX (\left. \right.). This isn't an issue about a lack of
functionality or ease of use compared TeX. However documentation is 

> Indications are that someone at WRI wants to develop Mathematica into a
> first rate technical publishing tool. It should be explained to them
> that this is just a waste of time and talent if the use of the tool 
> is to be such a jealously guarded secret.
> If Mathematica is to have more than marginal use as a technical
> publication system WRI needs to produce, in house or outhouse, a
> Mathematica equivalent of The Joy of TeX. Cursory documentation and
> scattered hints in journals will not do it.

Publicon <> is intended to address 
the issues of publication/printing quality by converting to TeX or some 
other printing format.


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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