LaTeX mathematics cheat sheet

10 minute read

LaTeX is the de facto standard typesetting system for scientific writing. A lot of the nice looking equations you see in books and all around the web are written using LaTeX commands. Knowing a few of the mathematics commands is not only helpful if you want to write a book or an article (or do some extreme stuff), but can come in handy in a lot of places, as many systems support LaTeX. You can use LaTeX in MathJax to display expressions on the web (like here), you can make yourself good looking mathematics flashcards in Anki, you can even nerd out and send formulas built with LaTeX commands to your friends via an iMessage app. Also, Apple’s latest Pages release now supports LaTeX equations.

Reasons enough to get familiar with the standard commands!

While a lot of commands can be written out in plain (e.g. 1+1=2), there are other frequently used commands you will need to look up or memorise.

I plan to update this post continuously as I find myself looking for a common symbol I haven’t listed yet. Feel free to drop me an email or comment when you land here and don’t find the answer to a frequently used symbol.

Here is the cheat sheet (naturally incomplete):

Fractions

Command Description Output
\frac Build a fraction like so: \frac{1}{2} $$\frac{1}{2}$$
\frac{\frac{}}{} You can nest fractions: \frac{\frac{1}{2}}{2} $$\frac{\frac{1}{2}}{2}$$

Greek letters

(capitalize by capitalizing the command)

Command Description Output
\alpha alpha $$\alpha$$
\beta beta $$\beta$$
\gamma gamma $$\gamma$$
\delta delta $$\delta$$
\epsilon epsilon $$\epsilon$$
\zeta zeta $$\zeta$$
\eta eta $$\eta$$
\theta theta $$\theta$$
\iota iota $$\iota$$
\kappa kappa $$\kappa$$
\lambda lambda $$\lambda$$
\mu mu $$\mu$$
\nu nu $$\nu$$
\xi xi $$\xi$$
o omicron $$o$$
\pi pi $$\pi$$
\rho rho $$\rho$$
\sigma sigma $$\sigma$$
\tau tau $$\tau$$
\upsilon upsilon $$\upsilon$$
\phi phi $$\phi$$
\chi chi $$\chi$$
\psi psi $$\psi$$
\omega omega $$\omega$$

Logic

Command Description Output
\forall For all $$\forall$$
\exists Exists $$\exists$$
\lor Or $$\lor$$
\land And $$\land$$
\veebar Xor $$\veebar$$
\neg Not $$\neg$$

Operators

Command Description Output
\times Times $$\times$$
\cdot Dot $$\cdot$$
\div Division $$\div$$
\pm Plus minus $$\pm$$

Relation

Command Description Output
\neq Not equal $$\neq$$
\approx Approximately equal $$\approx$$
\leq Less than or equal $$\leq$$
\geq Greater than or equal $$\geq$$
\ll Much less than $$\ll$$
\gg Much greater than $$\gg$$

Sets

(Often you can put an “n” before the command and get the negation)

Command Description Output
\supset Proper superset $$\supset$$
\supseteq Superset $$\supseteq$$
\subset Proper Subset $$\subset$$
\subseteq Subset $$\subseteq$$
\in Member $$\in$$
\emptyset Empty set $$\emptyset$$
\mathbb{R} Set of real numbers $$\mathbb{R}$$
\cup Set union (belonging to A OR B) $$\cup$$
\cap Set intersection (belonging to A AND B) $$\cap$$

Super-/Subscript (Exponents / Indices)

Command Description Output
^ Use ^ for superscript. Example: x^2 $$x^2$$
^{} Use ^{} for exponents with >1 digit. Example: x^{10} $$x^{10}$$
_ Use _ for subscript. Example: x_0 $$x_0$$
_{} Use _{} for subscript with >1 digit. Example: x_{10} $$x_{10}$$

Others

Command Description Output
\infty Infinity $$\infty$$
\partial Partial $$\partial$$
\hat{} Estimator $$\hat{\theta}$$
\sqrt[root]{} Square root $$\sqrt[3]{4}$$

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