Does anyone have any suggestions for recreating the \boxed{...} function from LaTeX in plain TeX? I'm pretty sure it's part of the amsmath package for LaTeX.

  • 4
    From amsmath.dtx: \newcommand{\boxed}[1]{\fbox{\m@th$\displaystyle#1$}}; and you can extract the definition of \fbox (and friends) from latex.ltx. – Werner Jan 31 '13 at 3:22

You can recycle the definition of \cstok that you can find in manmac.tex:

\def\boxed#1{% from \cstok in manmac.tex

a = \boxed{1\over2} = {2\over 4} = \boxed{\root3\of{8^{-1}}}


Adjust the spacing to suit your taste.

enter image description here

  • Interesting to see how the TeX math routines put the -1 in a visibly too low position. – user4686 Jan 31 '13 at 9:01
  • 2
    @jfbu The argument to \radical is typeset in cramped text style (in this case). You can force "non cramped" with an explicit \textstyle or \displaystyle declaration. – egreg Jan 31 '13 at 9:02
  • surprising though that with an overall displaystyle, TeX decides that stuff within a \root3\of should be in cramped style, as if this was destined for an inline equation. – user4686 Jan 31 '13 at 9:06
  • another interesting aspect is that removing the braces around the #1 would be a very bad idea, as the \displaystyle scope is ended by the \over in \boxed{1\over2} for example. – user4686 Jan 31 '13 at 9:10
  • @jfbu In my first attempt I missed those braces. ;-) But I immediately realized the mistake because I used 1\over2. – egreg Jan 31 '13 at 9:11

I have done Werner's exercise. With the additional braces for use with \over as in egreg's answer.

Edit for my first ever non zero use of \mathsurround. But sub-formulas (in \hboxes) then should be aware and set their own, as is systematic I think in LaTeX/amsmath.

\newdimen\fboxsep  \fboxsep3pt
\newdimen\fboxrule \fboxrule.4pt

\long\def\boxed #1{\leavevmode
  \setbox \boxedbox = 
  %%\hbox{\kern\fboxsep {\mathsurround0pt $\displaystyle {#1}$}\kern\fboxsep}%
  \hbox{{\mathsurround\fboxsep $\displaystyle {#1}$}}%
  \hbox{\lower \dimen0
           \hbox {%
            \vbox {\hrule height \fboxrule 
             \hbox {\vrule width \fboxrule 
              \vbox {\vskip \fboxsep \box \boxedbox \vskip \fboxsep }%
                    \vrule width \fboxrule }%
                   \hrule height \fboxrule }}}}

a = \boxed{1\over2} = {2\over 4} = \boxed{\root3\of{8^{-1}}}


boxed formulas boxedams

The second being the output of



a = \boxed{{1\over2}} = {2\over 4} = \boxed{\root3\of{8^{-1}}}

  • in passing I removed the \color@begingroup and \color@endgroup, not having checked if package color could be used with plain TeX. – user4686 Jan 31 '13 at 15:11
  • 1
    actually, \hbox{{\mathsurround\fboxsep $\displaystyle {#1}$}} would give the first ever actual use of mathsurround I would have ever done. In LaTeX2e they use \m@th for \mathsurround0pt but here \mathsurround\fboxsep would spare some tokens... – user4686 Jan 31 '13 at 15:38

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