# \$x_1, \dotsc, x_n\$ vs. \$x_1\$, \$\dots\$, \$x_n\$

For example, if I want to say something like

Let x_1, ..., x_n be real numbers.

should I use

``````Let \$x_1, \dotsc, x_n\$ be real numbers.
``````

or

``````Let \$x_1\$, \$\dots\$, \$x_n\$ be real numbers.
``````

Note that if one lists only two objects a, b, then

``````Let \$a\$, \$b\$ be real numbers.
``````

should be used instead of something like

``````Let \$a, b\$ be real numbers.
``````

since the comma is part of the text (and not of the mathematical notation), see "\$a, b\$" vs. "\$a\$, \$b\$" or \$a,\ b\$, and \$c\$ vs. \$a\$, \$b\$, and \$c\$.

• Use `\dots`; `\dotsc` is necessary in cases such as `a_1,a_2,\dotsc` where the nature of the dots cannot be determined by examining the next token. Aug 13, 2018 at 16:35
• Related/duplicate: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/122491/4427 Aug 13, 2018 at 16:36
• `Let \$x_1\$, \$\dots\$, \$x_n\$ be real numbers.` seems needlessly complicated, but I can see where you are coming from... Aug 13, 2018 at 16:47

This is partly a math question and partly a tex question.

The expression represents a continuum, so the spaces around the dots should be uniform between the commas. This will be accomplished only by including the entire expression in a single math environment.

Now for the tex part. This is best expressed as `\$x_1, \dots, x_n\$`. `\dotsc` isn't needed because it's possible to determine the position -- which should be on the line -- from the enclosing commas (as mentioned in a comment by @egreg).

Finally, althougn this won't break by itself if it happens to fall at the end of a line and will overflow into the margin, that can be remedied by inserting `\allowbreak` after whichever of the commas will result in the most satisfactory realignment of the paragraph.

• @dexteritas Please read the note at the end of barbara's profile. The "wrong" spelling was intended. Oct 24, 2019 at 15:49
• @campa Okay, I didn't know that. Nevertheless, I think that a correct spelling is appropriate on this page. Otherwise every user could think of his own semantic meaning for correct and wrong spelling, then it becomes confusing ;) Instead, if necessary, I would include the hint that it is only one's own opinion in the text. Oct 24, 2019 at 16:06

In my opinion, you should write "Let \$x_1\$, \dots, \$x_n\$ be real numbers." Two or many, in a text context they should be treated accordingly.

• while breaking up the math string is quite acceptable if there are only two non-dots elements, the presence of the dots makes this a bad idea. breaking up the math is okay in a string such as `if \$a\$, \$b\$, or \$c\$`, where uniformity of spacing isn't a consideration. Oct 1, 2018 at 12:58