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Formatting Equations

Formatting Equations

Formatting Equations

I have been lurking in an editor's group in Facebook. An interesting question came up.

In a document with equations, variables are formatted as italic. The variables are formatted as italic when they are referred to in the regular text paragraphs. This seems to be done systematically in all the books I was able to quickly locate.

Is there a standard or a style guide somewhere that specifies this? Is anything like this taught in school today? My schooling pre-dates word processors.


RE: Formatting Equations

My go-to reference for these sorts of questions is usually the TeX or LaTeX resources. In establishing an electronic typesetting system, predominately for technical documents, considerable thought has been given to conventions and styles for mathematical and scientific notation.

This page might provide useful reading:


In particular, the third and final response includes this paragraph:


In many math texts since (at least?!) the middle or late 18th century (Euler's influence?), variables and letter-like symbols are typeset by convention in a slanted or, rather, italicized style.

If you're after some sort of authoritative style guide that actual states this (rather than just knowing it as a convention), check out the various journal submission guidelines. For example, such as the one from the American Mathematical Society (AMS), seem to require compliance with "Mathematics into type" by Ellen E. Swanson.

RE: Formatting Equations

Yup most are italic. And I agree on referring to TeX.
The only reference I can think of is the ASME research journal standards.

RE: Formatting Equations


Thanks. I actually use LaTeX for stuff.


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