I have a multi-line equation that I want to have matching sized parentheses. The advice I read online was to use \left( equation \right. \\ left. rest-of-equation \right) . However, this syntax leaves first half of the equation unaware of what is in the second half. For example, if you include a square root term after the break, the second parenthesis will be larger than the opening parenthesis. When you are using the aligned environment to split a long equation this can look somewhat offputting.

alt text

Compare the top equation to the bottom one. The parentheses match in size for the bottom equation, but the left hand parentheses for the top one is noticeably smaller.

Top Code:

 \gamma_{\text{u}} + \frac{1}{108} 
 \left(57\gamma_{\text{er}} \right. &+  38\gamma_{\text{se}}\\ & {}\pm
 \left.\sqrt{2601 \gamma_{\text{er}}^2 + 3648
 \gamma_{\text{er}}\gamma_{\text{se}} + 1444 \gamma_{\text{se}}^2}

Bottom Code:

\begin{aligned}[t] \gamma_{\text{u}} + \frac{1}{16}
\left(9\gamma_{\text{er}}  +  6\gamma_{\text{se}} \pm  \sqrt{49
\gamma_{\text{er}}^2 + 76 \gamma_{\text{er}}\gamma_{\text{se}} + 36
\gamma_{\text{se}}^2} \right) \end{aligned}

2 Answers 2


You could also put all parts on all lines and hide the ones that don't belong with \vphantom{...}. That way, they'll contribute to the height, but not take up space, and your parens should match. (Me personally, I find that clutters the source too much and I'm not too fond of \left and \right anyway, so I do \bigg et al. manually in these situations.)

I also vaguely recall seeing a re-implementation that works across multiple lines, and that appears to be in breqn.

  • That is definitely a solution (\vphantom), but this is a table of multiline equations with 4 other columns in the table, so the source is already cluttered as it is :D.
    – crasic
    Nov 18, 2010 at 21:19
  • 9
    I'd manually size them then. I think the order is \big \Big \bigg \Bigg, but I keep forgetting. Nov 18, 2010 at 21:23
  • 1
    That is the order, at least per garsia.math.yorku.ca/~zabrocki/latexpanel/latexpanel.pdf
    – cxw
    Jun 18, 2015 at 14:37
  • A code example would help. "I do \bigg et al. manually" is vague and requires some further searching to understand the answer.
    – divenex
    Jun 14, 2019 at 16:38

This is quite an old discussion but in case somebody still has a problem like that I'd recommend looking it up here http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/Advanced_Mathematics#align_and_align.2A. They suggest that you should use \right. and \left. when you go to the next line. Then sizes and everything will fit and you won't have your source code completely clattered up by \vphantom stuff.

  • 6
    if you read the cited wikibooks entry more carefully, you will notice that if the scope of the "fenced" material exceeds a single line vertically, the \vphantom is still required on a line that doesn't have the same "highs" and "lows" as the line that it's supposed to match. Feb 14, 2014 at 19:06

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