Mathematical equations

MathML is the leading technology for the online display of mathematical equations online. The Dictionary utilises this technology to optimise the display of the mathematical equations contained in many of its articles. You will need to have a compatible browser for MathML to display. If you are not using a compatible browser, the equations will display as images instead.

Benefits of MathML:

  • In-line maths will align correctly with text
  • Maths will scale correctly with the browser font size
  • Better accessibility: MathPlayer, for example, can speak the equation to assist those with a reading impairment

If you are using a compatible browser, the equations will display as MathML automatically. Alternatively, you can set your own preferences.



1. Your current math display preference

You don't currently have a preference. We will deliver mathematical content as MathML based on our detection for your browser.

If your browser can handle MathML content, it is recommended that you select the MathML option as it will provide a better appearance than images. Please be aware that the images may take a while to download, and may not align perfectly or exactly match the size of the rest of the text.

Changing your math display preference

You can override the mathematical equation delivery provided based on our detection of your browser's capabilities by setting your preference as follows.

MathML delivery preference

How to save the preference

Your preference is stored in a "cookie" on your computer so you must have cookies enabled to use this feature. Please be aware that:

  • The cookie contains your preference and no other information and it will not be sent to any other site
  • The cookie will be removed when you close your browser unless you choose to save your preference permanently
  • You can change or delete your preference later using this form or you can delete the cookie using your browser's cookie options


2. MathML test

This test section will allow you to check your browser's capability for supporting MathML. We will deliver MathML to your browser, regardless of your preferences, so that you can check the results.

The table below shows how your browser will display MathML (in the left hand column) alongside an example of how it should look if it is displaying correctly (in the middle column). Possible reasons for differences are noted, including next steps.

The images of how MathML should look have been created using WebEQ. This is the same software that we use when displaying the equations as images. WebEQ is from Design Science, the makers of the MathPlayer plug-in for Internet Explorer. The images of MathML may not exactly match your browser and you may still see some differences style, alignment and size even if the MathML is displaying correctly.

MathML browser display test How it should look Notes
p(t|θ,λ) Example of how MathML should appear A very simple MathML example. This may display almost correctly even if your browser doesn't support MathML. However, note that the letters should be italic. If this isn't the case follow the advice provided above.
p(x|D)=Ωp(x|ω)p(ω|D)dω Example of how MathML should appear A simple mathematical equation. If this does not match the example it would suggest your browser is not currently able to support MathML. Check through the browser section above and follow the recommendations. If you cannot enable direct MathML display, you may have to receive MathML as images or use a different browser or version.
AT=τTF^Y-1(mτ)-F^Y-1(τ). Example of how MathML should appear This is a more complex example of an equation in MathML. You may see this appearing almost exactly the same in FireFox, but with a black block under the square root symbol, this indicates you don't have the correct math fonts installed and should follow the FireFox browser recommendations above. If this does not match the example at all it would suggest your browser is not currently able to support MathML. Check through the browser section above and follow the recommendations. If you cannot enable direct MathML display, you may have to receive MathML as images or use a different browser or version.

3. MathML and browsers

We recommend you use the following browsers when using the The Dictionary as they support MathML:

  • FireFox fully supports MathML display when mathematical fonts have been installed
  • Internet Explorer can be extended to support MathML by installing the MathPlayer plug-in

You can determine your browser and version by selecting Help and then About from most browsers.

3.1 FireFox with mathematical fonts

MathML displays natively in the recent versions of FireFox. It is recommended that some extra fonts are installed for full MathML support, although the vast majority of MathML in the dictionary will display in FireFox without any additional fonts.

FireFox has supported MathML for some time, but if you do have an early version and can't update, use the preference form above to select images if you encounter problems with the how the MathML displays.

For more details on this and other browser configurations visit the recommended browsers page.

3.2 Internet Explorer and the MathPlayer plug-in

Internet Explorer fully supports MathML when the MathPlayer is installed. The MathPlayer is available for Internet Explorer versions 6 and above, however we would recommend version 7 as the visual appearance of the site is optimised for Internet Explorer 7.

Visit Design Science, the makers of MathPlayer, to download and install the plug-in. Then use the test section to check the install has enabled MathML to display correctly.

Unfortunately, MathPlayer does not work for versions Internet Explorer below 6. If you have an earlier version we recommend you update to IE 7. If you can't update to IE 6 or 7, please don't install MathPlayer as this will cause issues with the mathematical equation display. If you do have MathPlayer installed with an older version of IE and can't update IE, please use the preferences form above to choose images rather than MathML.

For more details on this and other browser configurations visit the recommended browsers page.

3.3 Other browsers

If you are using another browser, check the browser's capability for displaying MathML in the test section above. Once you have ensured your browser can support MathML you can change your preference to received MathML, using the preference form above.

3.3.1 Opera

Experimental versions of Opera are available with MathML support. If you have Opera, MathML will not be delivered automatically by this site. If the MathML is displaying correctly in the test section, you can use the preference form above to choose to receive MathML instead of images.

3.3.2 Safari

Safari unfortunately does not support MathML and mathematical content will have to be delivered as images.

4. MathML and accessibility

Both FireFox and Internet Explorer (with MathPlayer installed) will scale the MathML content when the normal font size controls within the browsers are used. Additionally, when viewing with the MathPlayer installed you can zoom into equations by clicking them individually.

When using The Dictionary in Internet Explorer with MathPlayer installed you also have the option to have the equations spoken. This may be the best option for users requiring speech. You can learn about how MathPlayer can speak from Design Science, the makers of MathPlayer. They also have a good overview on MathML and accessibility.

Initiatives to make MathML content more accessible are currently in progress. The Network for Inclusive Distance Education is running a MathML accessibility project.