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3.6: Formulas

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  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    In this section, we review how to add accessible formulas to content.

    What are formulas?

    Formulas refer to math equations and science formulas.

    File types used: MathJax, LaTex, MathType

    Who are you doing this for?

    This work supports students who:

    • Are blind or have low vision
    • Have a form of cognitive disability, like Mark
    • Have a physical disability

    Mark has a learning disability. He absorbs information best by hearing it.

    What do you need to do?

    Equations in LibreTexts are handled by the MathJax add-on (based on LaTeX).

    NEVER USE AN IMAGE FOR AN EQUATION. Images cannot be read by screen readers.

    MathML can be used, but it is ungodly verbose, making it difficult to understand and edit. Equations built with the equation editor in Microsoft Office are not readable in Libretexts. 

    Mathpix: The Tool You Can't Live Without 

    MathJax is a little overwhelming at first but thankfully there is a tool that makes it super easy called MathPix Snip.

    • Download the tool from and install it on your computer
    • When you need to transfer an equation press ctrl+alt+m and select the equation that you want to copy.
    • Use the first line that doesn't have any environment coding and add the \( or \[ for inline or display mode environment manually.
    • If the snipper got a few details wrong you can edit the code and check that it renders before copying it over
    • If it is a complicated equation zoom in on it using your browser before using the tool. If it still doesn't work consider snipping the equation in several parts.


    LaTeX has any number of extension packages for complex equations which are not supported by MathJax, but MathJax DOES support screen readers while LaTex especially some of the extension packages do not. The LibreTexts Construction Guide contains a listing of MathJax syntex and how to use MathJax.

    The Libretexts libraries have also installed the mhchem, a tool for writing beautiful chemical equations easily. The syntax for this powerful add-on can be found here:

    LibreTexts has a realtime equation editor which can be used to write out MathJax for equations but it requires facility with LaTex/MathJax. CodeCogs  LaTex/MathJax equation editor is friendlier for a novice. Unfortunately it also provides images of the equations which should never be used in LibreTexts.

    At a BCcampus user-testing session, students indicated that it would be helpful to place an audio file of the formula or equation alongside each, allowing the user to hear exactly how the formula or equation should be interpreted.


    Math ML is a text-based XML (short for “extensible markup language”) designed for math equations. Browsers that support MathML are able to translate the XML into a formatted equation. 

    Here is information about creating and viewing MathML. MathML may vary from system to system and the content can change rapidly.

    Additional resources

    Math accessibility at Portland Community College

    In 2012, Portland Community College departments took a closer look at making math accessible to blind students. Read more about the math accessibility study.

    Watch Math Accessibility at Portland Community College. (This video is an open educational resource.)

    Media Attributions

    Text Attributions

    This chapter is a derivative of Equations: MathML, Images and LaTeX by Penn State. Penn State has provided permission to the authors to use this information under the licence of the toolkit.

    3.6: Formulas is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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