I have found the pseudo-latex in the Macos version of OneNote frustrating---I can't get the formulas to look right. What is the simplest method to use LaTeX or pdflatex to make an image of a mathematics formula that I can insert into OneNote as a picture?

My formulas will normally occupy only part of a single line of output, for example $x+y = z$. It would be ideal if Latex were to compute the size of the typeset formula, and then produce a pdf of exactly that size (or slightly bigger). If possible, I would like to avoid my usual time-consuming manual labour of repeatedly cropping and scaling the pdf, so as to get everything looking right. I found a previous discussion at LaTeX math as an image of a specific size but the solution given there involves using additional programs, whereas it seems to me that LaTeX should be able to do a job like this unaided and very well. I also found Pixel-perfect vertical alignment of image-rendered TeX snippets? but that seems to involve a lot of meticulous labour and anyway the product is html, which I don't think is relevant to my problem.

I'm not worried about alignment problems---I will almost certainly have to move the images a little manually in OneNote, no matter what method I use to produce the images.

2 Answers 2


You might use \documentclass{standalone} for this. Then, set the equation in display mode with \[. You could put other kinds of content inside a \begin{minipage} of the set width.

This should give you a small PDF suitable for embedding in another document, or converting to SVG.

  • After spending some time investigating LaTeXiT, I'm certainly pleased to know about it, and I'm sure I will be using it. Subsequently I looked at standalone and found that this met my needs much better than LaTeXiT, because all the manipulation can be done programmatically. LaTeXiT is designed for interactive use. Oct 17, 2020 at 21:08

I highly recommend a free macOS program called LaTeXiT, which is supplied with Mac TeX distributions (or available here: https://www.chachatelier.fr/latexit/index.php ). It lets you create a library of equations and expressions that can be sized and drag-and-dropped into other applications. You can also have multiple customized preambles for different situations.

  • This looks as though it is exactly what I need. (But I haven't yet tried it.) Oct 15, 2020 at 15:34
  • Yes, it's good. Often my latex input is generated by a python program. Is there a way to get python to write directly to a LaTeXiT screen or file that can be processed by LaTexIT? Oct 15, 2020 at 16:11
  • @DavidEpstein The developer is very helpful and responsive and I would suggest contacting him. He would surely know if there's a way to do that. Oct 15, 2020 at 23:29

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