The goal is to get those formulas on the page as quickly as you are thinking of them. So that you can actually solve math problems, or experiment with the mathematics itself.


  • What tools/programs/strategies/tips/tricks/etc. (or combination thereof) can be used to efficiently facilitate mathematics learning/experimenting ?


  • Only using keyboard. (no paper, pen, etc.)
  • No access to internet. (preferable, but not required.)
  • Basic knowledge of LaTeX syntax and programs. (or how to find them)

Show how:

  • to use LaTeX, while you are still actively solving a math problem.
  • can preview enough lines of math to focus on problem solving.
  • to LaTeX quickly.

Experiments I have tried:

  • Using a text editor has the simplicity and speed of typing. Using things like pandoc or mathjax to render from markdown are awesome. However for active problem solving, having to constantly compile the code manually can break concentration.

  • Using online websites is good for live previewing, but requires internet access, and therefore isn't ideal.

  • Using a regular LaTeX program, which might be the way to go: when combined the proper extensions (I'm not sure which, or how to find them exactly.)

  • Using something like Lyx, which actually worked pretty well for active math solving... but it didn't seem to work well for typing code (maybe I just need to change the options?)

I almost want to create a program that is specifically designed for this... but I have a feeling that I'm not the first person to attempt this, and that there is already a solution out there.

O' tEx-change, Share upon me your LaTeX wisdoms! =D

(Thanks in advance to anybody who actually reads everything I just wrote here)

↓ ↓ Links to Various Answers ↓ ↓

↖ Handpicked Related Questions: ↗

Very Outdated but still relevant:

Perhaps more answers are buried within this list:

  • 2
    Welcome to TeX - LaTeX! As it stands this is a very broad question. Can you be more specific about what type of maths problems you are interested: algebraic equation manipulation, line and circle problems, constructions of theorems and their proofs,... Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 8:50
  • I'll second @AndrewSwann's point but do think there's merit in a broad question: I spent most of a day working on an awkward trig problem recently, and found that drawing it in TikZ helped, as did typing up some key milestones and their derivations for reference, but didn't find that it was helpful for the actual working -- nothing beats pencil for me (but that might have somethign to do with being an experimentalist).
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 9:03
  • Note that there are several question related to automatic compilation and live updating which may be relevant: [Tools for automating document compilation, Automatically run Latex command after saving .tex file in Emacs, Real Time LaTeX? when combined with a PDF viewer (sumatra, evince) that doesn't lock the file for writing and auto-reloads it.
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 9:08
  • Asciimath (possibly converted to LaTeX) might make for quicker and more intuitive typing, or even -- depending on what you're doing -- pythontex with SymPy
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 9:10
  • I'll try to edit the question for clarity as I learn more... The first thing that comes to mind would be algebraic/equation manipulation, however the goal is to use LaTex in a quick way that would replace physical writing of math (Regardless of the reason for wanting to do so.) So if there is a way to do experiment and construct theorems, or make drawings, etc. in a quick way, then I definitely want to hear about it! =)
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 10:37

4 Answers 4


You may find useful looking at Emacs org-mode. It is basically a note-taking utility, with a syntax akin to Markdown, but allows you to do much more than just typing. You can perform complex calculations turning it into a powerful spreadsheet, using whatever Emacs Calc allows you to do (including algebraic manipulation and symbolic calculus). You can also preview LaTeX fragments and export an entire org file to an arbitrarily complex LaTeX files and directly to PDF. So you can make org-mode do the calculations for you and typeset them in LaTeX at the same time.

If this isn't enough, you can run computer algebra systems (like Maxima) inside Emacs.

Org-mode supports literate programming, that coupled with computing capabilities enables you to obtain a fully reproducibly research paper, from computation to typesetting, see: https://github.com/vikasrawal/orgpaper/blob/master/orgpapers.org and these other examples: http://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/babel/uses.html#sec-6


Emacs comes with org-mode already installed, but you can upgrade the package to the latest version with M-x package-install RET org RET. In Emacs lingo, M-x means pressing ALT + x (ALT key and letter x, at the same time, then release them), and RET is the Enter key. For the record, C-x stands for CTRL + x.

Quick start

To start using org-mode, just create a new file with .org extension. From menu: FileVisit New File. Just with the keyboard: C-x C-f (press CTRL + x at the same time, release them, then press CTRL + f at the same time, and release them), enter new file path and name, press RET.


Here are some random screenshots found on the Internet:

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  • 1
    cool! I wasn't familiar with this, and I'm definitely going to try it out!
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 12:18
  • Ok so I found out where this is.... but I am not used to EMACS so... I couldn't actually figure out how to install it...... I got emacs installed successfully, but I couldn't figure out how to install packages. (I have only glanced over a few pages in the documentation so far). I'll figure it out when I have some time to read all the docs :D
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 14:00
  • @user127715 you don't need to install org-mode, it's already in Emacs, but you can upgrade to the latest version after installation. I added some more information to the answer.
    – giordano
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 16:52
  • L O L .... so i wasn't aware that M-x and RET were references to Alt-x and Enter... You might find it amusing to know that I was literally typing the string "m-x package install RET" into places like the shell prompt... =)
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 21:08

I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for. Might I suggest LaTeXTools (a package for the Sublime Text text editor) as an option, since you mention live-previewing of math that doesn't rely on an internet connection. LaTeXTools has this feature (there is also a port of LaTeXTools to Atom, but it does not at the time of writing).

The settings for this are described in the Math-Live Preview Settings section of the README, you can tell it to do live-preview for all math equations, just the currently selected one, or none at all. Because it compiles a mini LaTeX file behind the scenes to make the previews, you can also change which packages those LaTeX files use and which engine.

Note: to do the live preview (and e.g. a similar thing with images), LaTeXTools needs a newer version of Sublime Text. According to their README, at-least Sublime Text 3 version 3118. The details are in the README, it is quite extensive (almost too much).

  • oo yes I noticed that in the sublime text packages and downloaded it, but it was crashing so I haven't investigated in a while. I'll check it out again and see if does the trick.
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 10:30
  • I tested this out and got it to work :) It is a bit intensive on the CPU, and the live-preview causes it to start compiling constantly while you type (which seems like a good idea, but it didn't quite work out well for me). However... it has a lot of potential! & It has other useful features for latex in general.
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:57
  • Glad you got some use out of it :) It's definitely not perfect as you've mentioned, but I thought it could be a solid candidate. Also, if the frequency of the updates are any judge it's being quite actively developed, so it has that going for it.
    – 9tTn9B
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 15:56
  • I like sublime text, and it's simplicity is definitely the direction I am going for in this answer. So I'm going to add this answer to the "links to answers" that I"m slowly building in the my first post, because I have a feeling that somebody in the future might find it useful.
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 21:51

There is a list of applications that use MathJax for a live preview of LaTeX, some of them being offline editors.

As an example that might suit your needs there is Qute which, by the developer, is described as follows:

Qute for PC/Mac is a text editor with Markdown and TeX support. Qute offers per paragraph preview, i.e., users can switch between editing the source and viewing a rich text rendering with typeset formulas for each paragraph separately.

Note that (according to its website)

[...] Qute is experimental and comes without any warranty whatsoever

It's github doesn't look like it is still actively developed, but I remember it to be quite solid.

If Qute is kind of what you are looking for, you might also want to take a look at TeXmacs.

PS: I can not link to TeXmacs because I lack reputation, therefore it is bold …

  • The list of Mathjax applications is a great list! Lots of interesting tools/websites on there!
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 14:02

Are you looking for something like TeXstudio?

From it's homepage:

TeXstudio is an integrated writing environment for creating LaTeX documents. Our goal is to make writing LaTeX as easy and comfortable as possible.

Among other useful features, it has an integrated viewer, auto completion for both standard and self defined commands and a compilation is as easy as hitting F1 once. With a right click in the TeX-source you can jump to the corresponding position in the pdf and vice versa.

It is open source software licensed under GPL v2, with different downloads for Linux, Windows and Mac.

  • 1
    Given the basic kbowledge the OP claims to have, i bet the most basic editors are known. This isn't very relevant to the question.
    – Johannes_B
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 9:49
  • I'll edit the question a bit for clarity.. but yes one of the givens will be you already know about editors (in my case I've tested 4-5 + different ones already)
    – user127715
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 10:20

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