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Mathematical Symbols in Unicode

More browsers and Web sites are targeting a Unicode solution which is described below, but workarounds may still be needed for older browsers.

This Page

  1. Recommended Browsers and Fonts for Unicode
  2. Inserting Symbols
  3. Web Development
  4. Superscript and Subscript
  5. Math ML
  6. Other Links

Other Pages on Math

  1. Common Math Symbols Chart
  2. Greek Letter Unicode Chart
  3. Combining Diacritics - for and
  4. Alan Wood's Mathematical Operator Unicode table
  5. Inserting Formulas as Images
  6. PDF Files

Recommended Fonts and Browsers

Fonts

The following Unicode fonts include a comprehensive set of mathematical characters and are free for academic use.

Browsers

The following browsers have the most consistent results

Internet Explorer is also viable, but more recent versions are recommended.

Mathematical & Logical Symbol Test

If the "Text Version" matches the "Graphic Version", your computer has a font with mathetical symbols installed.

Graphic Version Text version
(should match)
Graphic with math symbols OS (year(OS) ≥ 2001 | ∃Font ∋ (∛, ∬♁∰⦖,≈))

Note on Internet Explorer (Older Version)

Older versions of Internet Explorer for Windows does not display mathematical symbols by default. Users who prefer Internet Explorer for Windows should set the Latin font to Arial Unicode MS or some other Unicode script with math symbol support.

Internet Explorer for Macintosh may not support all mathematical symbols.

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Inserting Symbols

For text documents, the following is recommended.

Windows

Use the Windows Character Map to insert mathematical symbols.

Macintosh

Use the Macintosh Character Viewer/Palette to insert mathematical symbols.

Web Development

Declare Unicode

No matter which method you use to create the document, the HTML page must be declared as a Unicode page with the following meta-tag.

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
...
</head>

Specifying Math Font Styles

Although it is generally not recommended to specify fonts for a language, it may be necessary in order to force Internet Explorer 5-6 to use the correct display fonts.This can be done either via CSS styles or via the FONT tag.

Below is the CSS style class listing some suggested font specifications.

.math {font-family: "Unicode Symbols", "Times New Roman", "Apple Symbols","Arial Unicode MS"}

Unicode Symbols is a freeware font with a very large set of symbol fonts included. Arial Unicode MS comes from Microsoft while Apple Symbols is provided by Apple.

The Times New Roman font on Windows and in newer Macs does include the basic Greek alphabet.

Inserting Characters

If you can use either the Windows Character Map or the Macintosh Character Viewer/Palette with Dreamweaver, Notepad (Win), Unipad (Win) or BBEdit (Mac) to insert mathematical symbols directly into the HTML.

However, you may get uneven results between browsers.

Unicode Numeric Entity Codes

You can substitute numeric entity codes for the mathematical symbols. For example:

See the Math Symbol Unicode chart or Alan Wood's Mathematical Operator Unicode table for other common symbols.

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Superscript & Subscript

You can use the <sup></sup> tag to create super script text and <sub></sub> to create sub-script text. See examples below:

Code: x<sup>x+1</sup>
Result: xx+1

Code: x<sub>i+1</sub>
Result: xi+1

See the Superscript page for additional options.

Math ML

Math ML is an XML language designed to present complex equations. MathML and HTML 5 combinations are supported, but only in the most recent browsers (e.g Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5.1, Firefox 4+).

Recommendations

For now it is recommended that:

  1. Equations on one line (e.g. ƒ(x) = x² + x) be formatted with HTML entity codes only instead of MathML. The syntax is usually simpler.
  2. For more complex equations, images are still the most reliable method of presenting equations . Make sure an ALT tag is included.
  3. See information below if you wish to experiment with MathML.

Math ML Links

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Links

Third Party Fonts

The following fonts are availble free for educational use and include most encoded mathematical and technical symbols.

Mathematic Entity Codes

Math ML Links

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Last Modified: Monday, 19-Nov-2012 12:22:09 EST