I just found out about the Math Input Panel in Windows 7,and now there is commercial software using it for LaTex writing. For example Inlage. If you have a look of their first demo video, you know what I am talking about: http://www.inlage.com/videos

I had a try with the Math Input Panel myself, and it seems you can basically write all math stuff, integration, super(sub) scripts, tensor, arrows (even with labels over them!), and matrix! The only big problem is there is NO commutative diagram. And it probably has trouble recognizing some math fonts, like \mathfrak or \mathcal. But in all, it really recognize handwritings pretty well. I don't have a writing pad, so I just tried writing with a mouse.

I know there are people taking math notes using a tablet PC. Won't this tool drastically improve the quality of our note-taking? It basically changes all handwriting into TeX files!

Maybe I am too late on this, are there more mature product for such purposes? I think handwriting math could actually be slower than typing LaTeX codes. But one good reason for doing handwriting is because sometimes I just don't like to make math writing into code writing (or something like programming). I would like to hear about your comments. Thank you!

  • the main question, is to see if anyone here has such kind of experiences, namely, handwriting TeXing...
    – bas
    Oct 4, 2010 at 6:56
  • 2
    The math panel is really cool, like all of Microsoft's math stuff. However it is still quite new, and I don't know anybody that uses it right now. Concerning speed, I think some people are faster with linear input, some are faster with handwriting recognition. See e.g. this post by Murray: blogs.msdn.com/b/murrays/archive/2009/05/07/…
    – Philipp
    Oct 4, 2010 at 8:32

5 Answers 5


I'm the developer of Inlage and I think the Windows 7 MIP is a great tool but it can't handle a many special things. But the possibilities are good for doing a lot of math stuff. For testing that tool I tried to write a 2 hour lecture of relativistic quantum mechanics down with a graphic tablet. It was possible but I had some problems. So I just replaced some symbols it couldn't handle. But natural it wasn't faster than handwriting...

But I think another nice idea to use the MIP is if you dont know the latex command of a symbol you can easily write it down (only the symbol, with mouse) in the MIP and get the command.


TexTablet performs the main feature of the program mentioned above: translates handwritten math into LaTeX. It's based on the Windows 7 Math Input. You hand-write the formulas on the Math Input Panel, but the results get translated into LaTeX.

Also, it's free of cost.

  • I should add that I really like this product and yet I never use it. I almost always just type the LaTeX. I have never stopped typing out a LaTeX project to write out a particularly complicated formula using this product instead.
    – Henry B.
    Oct 26, 2010 at 15:30
  • So then you don't find it useful, do you? Oct 27, 2010 at 8:17
  • @Hendrik. It seems useful in theory, but rarely (for me) in practice. I modified my answer.
    – Henry B.
    Oct 27, 2010 at 9:38

I'm not totally sure I understand your question. I've never tried hand writing TeX; that seems odd to me.

I have taken notes in LaTeX before. My general strategy was to invent macros as needed while taking notes. The first time I needed a "set x to be a uniformly random element of set S" macro, I just wrote \rgets. At the end of the class, my notes didn't compile, but I'd just go through and define the macros I had invented during the note taking.

I never tried it with a math class like algebraic geometry (I just used pencil and paper for math classes), but that strategy worked quite well for an advanced crypto class I took in grad school.


Writing notes on a tablet during a math class is likely to be a real loser unless you have some disability that makes using a pencil especially difficult compared to using a stylus. I don't know what that disability might be.

Since MIP or other tablet-based math input is error prone, and even a 10% error rate would be low, you will, in the midst of your math class be spending 50% or more of your time and a corresponding percentage of your mental capacity grappling with the error correction mechanism of MIP (or whatever).

As a (now retired) math and computer science professor, my experience with students who typeset their notes (and homework) when not at all required, is that they rarely if ever learn the material better.

If you are not using MIP, but simply using a tablet as a simulation of paper (no recognition) then I suppose there is this tradeoff:

pro: you are maybe saving some trees by not using paper. Also saving graphite? you could send your notes digitally to some archive or some friend with a computer. you could, maybe later, try to scan and recognize the math, without involving scanning or photographing paper.

con: you are writing on a piece of glass, which is uncomfortable. you can't look back at a previous page without invoking some command.

alternative: take a photo of the blackboard in your class. Or if you are already taking a class via computer, take a screen grab and store it.

Sadly, the neat technology of handwriting recognition of mathematics is not nearly as useful as it seems at first. Peculiarly, I have found that speaking mathematics is not as error prone, and has the distinct advantage of not requiring hands. Richard Fateman http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~fateman

  • Welcome to TeX.SX! You can have a look at our starter guide to familiarize yourself further with our format. It may be a personal opinion of mine (and I certainly don't want to start an argument), but maybe the first sentence could be rephrased to appear more “politically correct”...
    – Pier Paolo
    Jan 11, 2015 at 18:48

This is a really old Q/A, but I thought I'd mention that MathPaper, not to be confused with a commercial product by the same name, is the best I have found at recognizing handwritten mathematics. It has a feature whereby you can, subsequent to recognition (which happens in real-time), copy to the clipboard the equivalent LaTeX code. I use it on a tablet PC.

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