I'm trying to line up the variables of systems of equations. The following code:

&\alpha + 2&\beta + &\gamma & = 0 \\\\
3&\alpha + 7&\beta + 5&\gamma & = 1

produces the following image:

enter image description here

I want the Greek letters and the math symbols to be aligned, with appropriate spacing in between coefficients. I've tried using \begin{aligned} \end{aligned} and \begin{array}{ll} \end{array}{ll} as well, but they also don't provide the desired outcome.

Would anyone be kind enough to help me out? Thank you.


First of all, do not use $$ ... $$, which is plain TeX, use the LaTeX construct [ ... \].

Second, 4 alignment points require 7 ampersands, not 4: each new column of alignment has to be introduced by an ampersand. So n alignment points require 2n–1 ampersands.

Last: use alignat (or alignedat) to have full control on the spacing between columns of alignment.

Here is a possible code:

\[ \left\{
&\alpha &{} + 2&\beta + {} & &\gamma & & = 0 \\\\
3&\alpha &{} + 7&\beta + 5 & &\gamma & & = 1

However, using the systeme package makes it simpler to type:

\[ \systeme[\alpha\beta\gamma]{\alpha + 2\beta +\gamma = 0, 3\alpha + 7\beta + 5\gamma = 1} \]

enter image description here

  • I had no idea that $ was plain TeX, thanks! Unfortunately it seems that for the Github Markdown I'm trying to edit, \[ doesn't seem to work... But \begin{alignedat}{4} \end{alignedat} works perfectly! – Seankala Feb 21 at 15:36
  • I've updated with a simpler way to type (the \systeme command from the homonymous package). – Bernard Feb 21 at 15:38
  • 1
    In your first method, the spacing around the = is not correct. – Steven B. Segletes Feb 21 at 15:42
  • 1
    \amsldoc (amsmath documentation) and systeme. Feel free to ask any questions. – Bernard Feb 21 at 16:08
  • 1
    The empty curly braces are there because $+$ (or $-$) are binary operators with a special spacing w.r.t. the elements on the right and on the left. This can be destroyed by an ampersand, and to compensate, one has to add an empty argument, namely {}. For the number of &, maybe I was not clear enough: each column of alignment, but the first, has to be introduced by an &. Inside this column, the alignment point is specified with another &. Check on my code, you should see this rule is respected. Is this clear? – Bernard Feb 21 at 16:26

Something like this?

\alpha  +& 2\beta +&  \gamma =& 0 \\
3\alpha +& 7\beta +& 5\gamma =& 1

enter image description here


Here's a solution that requires only the basic array package. The following code also sets up a custom array-like environment.

enter image description here

\usepackage{array} % for "\newcolumntype" macro
%% set up a little custom enrironment:
   \left\{ \begin{array}{#1}}{%
   \end{array} \right.}

 \alpha &+& 2\beta &+&  \gamma &=& 0 \\
3\alpha &+& 7\beta &+& 5\gamma &=& 1

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