Proofreading Math

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This document applies to projects where the mathematical expressions will eventually be encoded in 'LaTeX' notation. If you wish information on how to handle occasional math expressions in a project that will not use LaTeX, please read this document. As with all proofreading, please remember that the Project Comments take precedence.


  • Do not worry about the mathematics. Non-mathematicians are expressly encouraged to proofread these projects.
  • Proofread the text, and as much of the math as is covered by the normal DP Proofreading_Guidelines, e.g., proof a subscript as y_{n+1}, superscript as z^2.
  • Any (sequence of) symbols that you can't handle should be replaced by @@ (two at signs).
  • If a mathematical symbol or expression was read as junk by the OCR, or appears to be missing, type in what you can, or at a minimum replace it by @@ (two at signs).
  • For an expression set off on its own line, or group of lines, treat it as a separate paragraph, with a blank line before and after.

Exceptions to the normal proofreading guidelines

  • Use a space rather than inserting a hyphen between a number and a fraction.
  • For Greek letters in mathematics, use the name prefixed by \, (e.g., \alpha, see table below), or invoke the @@ rule if you're unsure what the letter is. For a capital letter use the capitalized name of the letter (e.g., \Pi).
  • (but Greek text should be entered using Greek letters from the character picker).
\Alpha \Beta \Gamma \Delta \Epsilon \Zeta \Eta \Theta \Iota \Kappa \Lambda \Mu
\alpha \beta \gamma \delta \epsilon \zeta \eta \theta \iota \kappa \lambda \mu
\Nu \Xi \Omicron \Pi \Rho \Sigma \Tau \Upsilon \Phi \Chi \Psi \Omega
\nu \xi \omicron \pi \rho \sigma \tau \upsilon \phi \chi \psi \omega

More Detail


You can use plus-or-minus sign ±, multiplication sign ×, division sign ÷ and middle-dot · . Different authors use a period or a middle-dot as a decimal point and to indicate multiplication, just match the scan. To denote prime accents in math, use the single-quote character ' (a.k.a. apostrophe), repeated as many times in succession as needed. Please do not use a superscript "o" for degrees or a letter "x" for multiplication. Proofread parentheses (), square brackets [], and curly braces {} using the ordinary characters, even if the symbols on the page are large.


TeX treats a backslash followed by a sequence of letters as a single entity. When Greek letters appear as part of a larger expression, their names must be followed by a non-letter--such as a space, backslash, or arithmetic operator--as in \pi r^{2} or \alpha+\beta\pi = \omega. Similarly, named functions (log, cos, tan, etc.) should generally be surrounded by spaces, as in cos u sin v. If the text is easily human-readable, it's probably fine.

Within math expressions, spaces next to numbers and arithmetic signs are of no importance, since TeX will ignore them and put space around the elements by its own rules. So "x = 2 + 4", "x=2+4", and "x =2 +4" are all syntactically equivalent; they'll all be displayed as x = 2 + 4.

Complex expressions

Complete rendering of complicated fractions, square roots, etc., is generally beyond the expectations of the proofing rounds. However, please do proof the parts of formulas that are covered by the regular DP proofing guidelines, see the table of examples below.

For fractions with a horizontal bar, either replace the bar by a slash or separate the top from the bottom by extra space—whichever gives the clearer output. Do not use braces to group the numerator and denominator unless they're present in the page scan; the proofed text need not be mathematically accurate.

Never use "ASCII art" to represent fractions, square roots, integrals, or other typographical constructs in a TeX project.

If you're not certain whether part of an expression is covered by a normal DP guideline or not, the safest thing is to match the scan. For example, you might be uncertain whether a string of dots is an ellipsis (which would be covered by a normal guideline) or just a string of dots (in which case you would just match the number of dots in the scan). Don't be upset if a subsequent round has a different opinion and changes your work: there are many shades of grey in TeX proofing. If you prefer black and white, raise the issue in the project thread and get a ruling from the PM.


Image Proof as:
z^2 + 2 1/2
cos Ax sin By
tan \theta
a + b = 42
( 1.234 × 10^4 × 678  /  9023 )
@@ x^2 + y^2
sin^{-1} A = \pi / 2
a + b / c + d
e^{a^2 + ab + b^2}
@@_{a}^{b} f(x) dx
@@ 1 / n
dy / dx    dz / dy [another slash could be confusing, so use space]