When I specify a set of partial differential equations, I usually have to write out not only the equation itself, but also its domain. To complete the problem, I need to specify the boundary conditions underneath it in the same fashion. So the information I need to write is of the format:


Using simple \[ ... \] format, it looks absolutely horrible. So I tried using a 2x2 array using \begin{array}{cc}...\end{array}, but this doesn't look correct either. What is the standard approach to formatting these equations?

Update: This is what I have coded thus far:

 \[ \begin{array}{cc} -\nabla^2u=0, & \Omega\\u=g & \partial\Omega \end{array}\]  
  • Could you provide a MWE (minimal working example) of what you have done?
    – azetina
    Dec 11, 2012 at 20:35
  • take a look at the multi-line display structures in amsmath -- texdoc amsmath should bring up the manual if you're working with a tex live installation. Dec 11, 2012 at 20:35
  • @azetina: good point! I just updated my question with the code.
    – Paul
    Dec 11, 2012 at 20:39
  • @barbarabeeton \OT In my MikTeX installation (Win 7) I have to command texdoc amsldoc (as the documentation is named amsldoc.pdf). \endOT Dec 11, 2012 at 20:51
  • @Qrrbrbirlbel -- ah, okay. i'm working on a (shared) linux installation (don't know which flavor of the os), and both amsmath and amsldoc pull up the same manual. but you're right -- it's more reliable to use the exact name. Dec 11, 2012 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


You can probably use the align environment:

enter image description here

     -\nabla^2u&=0,\quad \Omega\\
     u&=g \quad \partial\Omega

% alignat option added

       -\nabla^2u&=0,&\quad &\Omega\\
                u&=g &      &\partial\Omega

For further reading about alignment, check amsldoc under Displayed equations. About \quad, it is defined as:

\def\quad{\hskip 1em\relax}
  • Yes! This was exactly what I was looking for! Thank you so much, azetina!
    – Paul
    Dec 11, 2012 at 20:49
  • Out of curiousity... What exactly does the command \quad do?
    – Paul
    Dec 11, 2012 at 20:50
  • 1
    @Paul \quad is a space command equivalent to 1em
    – azetina
    Dec 11, 2012 at 20:54
  • Using alignat might be a better choice. This just happened to work great only because the right hand side were of approximately equal width. Dec 11, 2012 at 23:14
  • I know @PeterGrill It was not my intention to align vertically. It just happened to be. I will update my example with alignat.
    – azetina
    Dec 11, 2012 at 23:16

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