How do we add a matrix to a LaTeX document?


5 Answers 5


Ash's answer typesets the matrix inline with the text. A (perhaps) nicer way to do this is to use the smallmatrix environment in the amsmath package. Add to the document preamble:


And then you can do:

$M = \begin{smallmatrix} a&b\\ c&d \end{smallmatrix}$

If you want to bracket the matrix you can also do:

$M = \left( \begin{smallmatrix} a&b\\ c&d \end{smallmatrix} \right)$

The amsmath package also offers the shortcut matrix environments which default to centered alignment for their columns:

  • matrix: unbracketed matrix
  • pmatrix: matrix surrounded by parentheses
  • bmatrix: matrix surrounded by square brackets
  • vmatrix: matrix surrounded by single vertical lines
  • Vmatrix: matrix surrounded by double vertical lines

This info is found in "The LaTeX Companion", and the amsmath manual section 4.

  • 7
    Just to add some info, with mathtools package you have the environments bsmallmatrix, psmallmatrix, …
    – Manuel
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 13:18

First: if you intend to do math in LaTeX, you SHOULD learn and use AMS LaTeX. The best reference is the Short Math Guide for LaTeX. In this guide, you will learn that there are many different matrix macros available when you use the amsmath package (e.g., \usepackage{amsmath} ).

To quote the document,

4.4. Matrices The environments pmatrix, bmatrix, Bmatrix, vmatrix and Vmatrix have (respectively) ( ), [ ], { }, | |, and || || delimiters built in. There is also a matrix environment sans delimiters, and an array environment that can be used to obtain left alignment or other variations in the column specs. [ed. To produce a matrix with parenthesis around it, use:]

  \alpha     & \beta^{*}\\ 
  \gamma^{*} & \delta 

To produce a small matrix suitable for use in text, there is a smallmatrix environment [ed. here was a matrix appropriate for text mode] that comes closer to fitting within a single text line than a normal matrix. This example was produced by

\bigl( \begin{smallmatrix} 
  a & b\\
  c & d 
\end{smallmatrix} \bigr) 

To produce a row of dots in a matrix spanning a given number of columns, use \hdotsfor. For example, \hdotsfor{3} in the second column of a four-column matrix will print a row of dots across the final three columns.

Note. The plain TeX form \matrix{...\cr...\cr} and the related commands \pmatrix, \cases should be avoided in LaTeX (and when the amsmath package is loaded they are disabled).

Finally, I'd like to mention that, while it is possible to set matrices without AMS LaTeX, just use it. It offers so many benefits that until you get the hang of LaTeX, it's the best single macro package for math.

  • Is there any way of adding in AMS to get boxed matrix? Ie. in array it would be with \begin{array}{rrr|rr}? Commented Nov 7, 2009 at 19:13
  • @PaulrBear the "Short Math Guide for LaTeX" link is to an FTP site, which your browser may not support accessing. But I can still access it as of 2019-03-13. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 23:19
  • Hmm, I see. That's not a very accessible format (if you cannot open it in Chrome, at least two-thirds of internet users cannot open it!)
    – Paul Wintz
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 6:47

For a matrix of the form:

M = x y
    z w

use the LaTeX code:

$M =
x & y \\
z & w \\

For flexible typesetting of matrices with color, lines and justification done by formatting parameters see An extension to amsmath matrix environments.

$M = 
\left[ {\begin{array}{*{20}c}
   x & y  \\
   z & w  \\    
 \end{array} } \right]

$M = 
\left( {\begin{array}{*{20}c}
   x & y  \\
   z & w  \\    
 \end{array} } \right)

$M = 
\left| {\begin{array}{*{20}c}
   x & y  \\
   z & w  \\    
 \end{array} } \right|
  • What is {*{20}c} for here? I see only 2 columns. Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 2:15
  • @IgorKotelnikov I don't know either, but it seems to me, that it could be "20 columns centered if the content needs 20 columns, otherwise less". Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 13:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .