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You could (ab-) use chemmacros's redox macros:

% arara: pdflatex
% arara: pdflatex


 \OX{first,$k$}(\OX{second,$a$}+\OX{third,$b$}) = ka + kb


enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Neat! Just a quick suggestion -- if you prefixed \scriptsize to the two instances of $\times$, the multiplication symbol's size would be (slightly) better proportioned. – Mico Jun 24 '12 at 12:11
Sure, why not. I simply wanted to demonstrate the basic principle. :) – clemens Jun 24 '12 at 14:30

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