Math Notation, Graphing, and Resources Questions:
- Typing Math Notation and Symbols Online in a Discussion Board:
- Posting Graphs and Graphics Online in a Discussion Board:
- Calculators, Graphing, and Mathematics Software:
- Resources for Mathematics on the Internet:
- Math and Test Anxiety:
- Math Symbols in Advanced Courses:
Math Notation, Graphing, and Resources Q&A
How do I post mathematics notation and symbols online?
The answer depends on a variety of things including what kinds of expressions you want to type, what software you have available, and your technological experience.
How do I type superscripts (powers) and
subscripts in a discussion board?
To type a power (superscript) in a DB you can just use the caret symbol
(looks like ^ and is above the 6 on a standard keyboard). For example x3
would be written as x^3.
If you prefer prettier formatting, use the
superscript/subscript buttons in the DB message toolbar. For example type the
base, click the x2 button, type the exponent, and click the x2
button again to leave the exponent area. The subscript button x2 is
handy for typing logarithms such as LOG2x. Useful keys!
How do I type ASCII codes to make math symbols?
are easy to produce using your numeric keypad. They are useful when typing math
notation in an email or discussion board post. Some of the more useful ones
are listed below. A more complete list is available in a Windows tool called
To make the ASCII code display on a Windows system, hold the ALT
key down while typing the three or four digit code on your numeric keypad, then release the ALT key and the symbol should appear.
(Note: don't type the +, just the digits.) On a laptop you may need to turn on your numeric keypad first
(NumLk), then hold both the FN and ALT keys down as you type the three or four digit
code on the numeric keypad, release both, and the symbol appears.
I've included some HTML tags here too for those of you familiar with HTML
programming. See the
next question for more information about HTML.
|infinity sign ∞
|multiplication dot x·y
|division sign ÷
|approximately equal to ≈
|not equal to ≠
|less than <
||just use <
|greater than >
||just use >
|less than or equal to ≤
|greater than or equal to ≥
||just use U
|plus or minus ±
|radical sign √
|absolute value bars | |
||use SHIFT \ on keyboard (looks
like two vertical dashes)
|composition f º g
|sum sign ∑
|angle mark ∠
|degree mark °
|dot product V•W
|cross product V×W
|if and only iff ⇔
|for all ∀
|there exists ∃
|is an element of ∈
|differential operator ∇
|integral sign ∫
Lower case: α β γ δ θ
Α Β Γ Δ
|ALT+224 for α
ALT+225 for β
β γ δ
θ π φ
Α Β Γ &Delta etc.
How do I type HTML tags to make math symbols in a discussion board?
If you are familiar with HTML programming you can use HTML tags to format your
messages and produce some mathematical symbols. I have included some useful HTML
tags in the chart above.
How do I type math expressions in plain text?
The most common way to write mathematics online is to write
expressions horizontally in plain text, but you have to format the expressions carefully
using appropriately placed parentheses and accurate notation.
Writing Mathematical Expressions in Plain Text -
Examples and Cautions. READ ME!
How do I use WIRIS, the equation editor in Moodle?
MR comes with a built-in equation editor called WIRIS. It provides the ability to write nicely formatted math expressions in a MR discussion board message without having to type them horizontally in plain text. It is quite useful for typing math problems into a DB post so that the equations display as they would in a textbook. It is fairly user-friendly but you can Watch a WIRIS Tutorial Video in YouTube, Try-out the WIRIS editor (useful!), Take a Tour of WIRIS (warning: contains some advanced math examples), and if necessary Read the WIRIS User Manual.
Note that you MUST have the most updated version of JAVA to run WIRIS (click here to test JAVA).
How do I use iCEE, the equation editor in Canvas?
Canvas has a built-in equation editor that you can use to type nicely formatted math expressions in a discussion post. It is fairly user-friendly with a typical pallette of options. Here are two tutorial videos How to use iCEE | How to use iCEE for Calculus and a keyboard shortcut sheet Tips for iCEE.
How do I use the math palette and graphing tools in MyMathLab?
Need help entering math notation or using the graphing tool in MML exercises or tests? Check-out there three tutorials:
- How to Enter Answers Using the MathXL Player Tour is the best one to start
- When working exercises or tests in MML
there is a math palette (on the left of the screen) that allows you to enter mathematical symbols. Pearson's Math Palette Help teaches you how to use it..
- Some questions require you to produce a graph using MML's graphing tool. Learn how to use it via Pearson's Graphing Tool Help.
How do I use a LaTeX equation editing software (and which is recommended)?
If working in Moodle I recommend WIRIS for most students, but if you want a more robust online equation editor then external LaTeX editors can be used to create mathematical expressions which can be copied-and-pasted into a DB message in your CMS. Online LaTeX Equation Editor is an open-source free online equation editor by CodeCogs.com. It takes some practice to use, but is quite complete (including symbols for calculus, chemistry, physics) and produces cleanly formatted expressions.
Follow the steps below to create the expression and its LaTeX code. To copy-and-paste the expression into your CMS: select (highlight) the expression, copy CTRL+C, then paste CTRL+V into the body of your DB message.
How do I purchase and use Math Type ($$) equation editing software?
While I use Math Type regularly in class, I'm not suggesting that students purchase it for class since MR already comes with a built-in equation editor. So, info below is just for those students who really want to buy Math Type (e.g. for other courses or their profession).
Math Type is a commercial equation editor software that costs about $57 (educational pricing as of 2012-09-20). They offer a 30-day free trial (www.dessci.com/en/products/mathtype/trial.asp) after which it reverts to Math Type Lite (which you can keep for free forever but may NOT work in your CMS).
Math Type allows you to construct equations (using fairly intuitive user-friendly menus of math functions) which you can then cut-and-paste into a DB message to create inline equations in your post. After cut-and-pasting into your DB message, only the code will appear in the compose message window, but the equations will render upon submit.
Important! You must set-up the "translators" accurately in MathType settings for the rendering to work properly.
Moodle: See www.dessci.com/en/support/mathtype/works_with.htm?target=moodle for directions.
Canvas: See www.dessci.com/en/support/MathType/works_with.asp#!target=canvas
iMathAS: See www.dessci.com/en/support/MathType/works_with.asp#!target=imathas
Others: See www.dessci.com/en/support/MathType/works_with.asp
Attn Mac Users: Math Type definitely connects to Moodle on Windows machines but please verify current Mac compatibility before purchasing.
How do I create a graph online and post it to a discussion board?
Most online graphers and graphing software allow you to save the graph as a file that can then be embedded in a DB post. Below are directions for using one such online grapher to plot a quick graph which can then be easily posted to most CMS discussion boards (including Moodle).
Go to iMathAS's Graphing Calculator (or whichever grapher you prefer) and plot your graph. Follow the directions below to save it to your desktop as a .GIF or .PNG file. Now go to the DB message you are writing, "embed" the file, and post! See How do
I embed a graphic in a discussion board message?
How do I transfer a graph from my TI calculator to my computer and post it to a discussion board?
First download and install the TI-Connect software from the Texas Instruments website. Then use the usb cable that came with your calculator to connect to your computer. Produce the graph on your calculator and make sure the graph is displayed on your calculator screen. Launch the TI-Connect program, select the TI screen capture option, and save the capture as a .jpg file on your computer. Now go to the DB message you are writing, "embed" the file, and post! See How do
I embed a graphic in a discussion board message?.
How do I post a screenshot, scanned image, photograph, or saved graphic to a discussion board?
Assuming you have a screenshot, scanned image, photograph, or saved graphic that you want to post to a discussion board, you just need to "embed" it into your post. See How do
I embed a graphic in a discussion board message?.
Note: .GIF, .PNG, or .JPG are the only recommended formats. Others may not display properly or may exceed the size limitations of your online classroom.
Where might the original .GIF, .PNG, or .JPG have come?
-- Screenshot of something on your computer screen (e.g. a graph) or Jing screenshot,
-- Hand-drawn graph or diagram scanned into your computer,
-- Graph or diagram hand-drawn on a tablet,
-- Digital photo of a hand-drawn graph,
-- Image created using online grapher or paint software,
-- Image (*) from the web (cite source!),
-- Graph transferred from your calculator via cable or bluetooth.
Note: It is OK to post a scan/screenshot of a graph, sketch, or diagram, but do NOT post the actual work/steps to solving a problem as a scan. The work/steps must be typed into the body of the DB message (e.g. using WIRIS).
* If the image is displayed on a webpage you may be able to cut-and-paste it right into your post depending on your CMS (course management system).
How do I create a screenshot in Windows or on MAC?
Windows 7 has a screenshot software included. In the start menu click Snipping Tool. Drag your cursor to place a rectangle around the screen item you want to capture, click "save as", and save as a .gif to your desktop. For Windows 8 see Windows 8 Snipping Tool.
With a Mac press command + shift + 3 to capture the whole screen, press command + shift + 4 to crop and capture the part you want to save, and save as a file to your desktop.
Once you have the file created and saved, you can use it in an online message. How do
I embed a graphic in a discussion board message?.
How do I use Jing to create a screenshot or mini-movie?
Jing is a free screenshot software. See Add Zing with Jing from Clark Cannell Library or Jing Instructions from Jolene Morris, Univ. of Phoenix Online. With Jing you may be able to cut-and-paste your screenshot graphic from a webpage directly into an discussion board message with no "embed" needed.
Where can I find a scientific calculator for my computer?
On a Windows computer, click "start -> all programs -> accessories
-> calculator". In "view" click "scientific" rather than "standard". I'm sure MAC
has something similar (and MACs have a terrific built in graphing calculator!
Where can I find a free online grapher or graphing software?
Want to save money by not buying a graphing calculator?
* In Wolfram Alpha note that the natural logarithm ln(x) is written log(x) and the common logarithm log(x) is written log(10,x). Careful!
I want to obtain mathematics computing software. What are my options?
If you are a mathematics major or plan to take several 100 and 200-level math classes then you may benefit by having mathematics computer algebra system (CAS) software. Warning: all CAS's require learning specific commands and notation and take time with which to become proficient. Instead of purchasing a CAS, Wolfram | Alpha may provide you sufficient capabilities, is user-friendly, and available free online.
SageMath is a free open source alternative to the commercial programs Maple, Mathematica, etc.
If you do choose to purchase a CAS, Maple is the most popular choice at Clark College. Some of Clark's upper math classes require Maple software and Maple is installed in some Clark College computer labs. (Ask me for a student discount code if you choose to purchase Maple.) Personally I prefer Mathematica, but it is more expensive and geared more to professional mathematicians and educators than to students. Matlab and MathCad are also possibilities but generally less supported that Maple and Mathematica.
I want to purchase a handheld graphing calculator. Which one should I buy and where?
If you choose to purchase a handheld graphing calculator, the Clark Math Division's Which Graphing
Calculator Should I Buy? may help you decide which make/model. Generally I suggest TI-84 in sub-100 level courses and TI-89 or higher in 100-level courses.
You can buy a new graphing calculator at the Clark College
bookstore, office supply stores, electronic stores, or new/used online. The
Clark College bookstore has used graphing calculators for rent (subject to
I need a tutorial on how to use my graphing calculator. Where can I turn for
Calculator help from Clark College mathematics faculty:
Calculator help from textbook publishers, calculator makers, and other sources:
Where online can I find some free printable graph
Try www.incompetech.com/graphpaper or www.printfreegraphpaper.com.
Where can I find math tutorial videos on the internet?
You may also find videos on specific topics by conducting a search using descriptive terms on sites such as YouTube EDU or TeacherTube or iTunes-U.
- Algebra Test Helper
Full lessons in pre-algebra and algebra only with topics listed alphabetically.
- Khan Academy.org
While some find these vids useful, I personally can NOT recommend them due to "quantity over quality". For another unfavourable opinion see review at wired.com.)
- Math is Power 4U recommended!
Arithmetic through Calculus and Differential Equations. Plenty of single example short videos.
- Math TV.com
Student videos created mostly by clever high school students.
- Math Videos Online.com
Algebra, Geometry, and Probability.
- Online Math Learning.com
Topics down left side menu: algebra, trigonometry, pre-calculus, and more.
- PatrickJMT Just Math Tutorials recommended!
Arithmetic, algebra, statistics, trigonometry, calculus, DE, and higher. Full lessons.
Where can I find math websites, resources, lessons, and help on the internet?
I keep a list of math help sites on the Clark Mathematics Division website resources and support page.
I have math anxiety. Do you have any
suggestions to help?
Math anxiety can be a debilitating problem, but one that
you can work to overcome! It often comes from bad experiences with math in
the past, not having a positive attitude (e.g. saying to yourself that you
"can't do it" or that your "brain isn't wired for math" are real killers!),
and being ill-prepared / not practicing enough / not truly putting in quality
study time. There are several well researched things you can do to
relieve math anxiety. Here are a few suggestions:
- Clark math Professor Mark Elliott wrote an Academic
Success Guide with general recommendations for success in college.
- The Clark Mathematics Departments provides The
Keys to Math Success pamphlet of resources.
- Clark math Professor Paul Casillas runs an hour-long free Math Success
Seminar (MASS) usually a few times a quarter. Watch the math department
website for announcements.
- Cuesta College in California provides some excellent Math Study
- Sheila Tobias, an internationally recognized math anxiety specialist,
wrote Overcoming Math Anxiety which is worth borrowing from a library.
I have test anxiety. Do you have any
suggestions to help?
College Career and Employment Services Center runs "Test Anxiety" and "Test-Taking Tips
and Strategies" workshops every quarter under their "Student
program. These are free seminars and well worth taking advantage! See www.clark.edu/student_services/employment/success_workshops.php for
In addition or instead you
can schedule a private meeting (again a free service) with a Clark
College counselor. The person who runs the test anxiety workshop is Tani McBeth.
You can call the Clark College Counseling Center to set up a 30 minute appointment with
her to assist you with test anxiety avoidance strategies. Any of the
counseling staff are available for appointments -- see www.clark.edu/student_services/counseling/index.php for contact info.
On a personal note, I suffer test anxiety. I can be well prepared for a test but as soon as it starts I feel like I am going to black out. I wish I could say it got better during my college years but for me it got worse. The more important the class/text the worse I suffered. Argh! But there were some things that helped so here are my tips for what they are worth. Don't cram - study and prepare early but don't study within 24 hours of a test if you can avoid it. Organizing notes though is a comforting helpful thing to do on that last day. In preparing notes I take my "complete" wordy notes, reduce them to a single page, then the main points to a notecard, on which I highlight important phrases. (Then when taking the test the phrase reminds me of the statement on the card that takes me back to the paragraph on the page that takes me back to the section in my original notes.) Right before the test I take a brisk walk to clear my fears then have a quick healthy snack. During the test sucking a lollipop is helpful. I know it sounds silly (and unhealthy), but there is something calming about it. Lastly, keep a positive attitude! You can do this and anyway, it's only a test, really! Grades don't matter that much in the big scheme of things. (Did I just say that?!)
What are the meaning of these math symbols?
If you are in Calculus or higher, here are some math symbols
with which you should become familiar:
means "is an element of"
means "if and only if" (IFF)
means "such that"
means "for all"
means "there exists"
In trig diagrams, what is the symbolism of the
Generally, capital letters represent points or vertices,
small letters represent sides or lengths, and
Greek letters represent measures of angles. However, sometimes textbook
authors use capital letters to represent vertices and the measure of
the angle at that vertex, e.g., A=80° means the measure of angle at vertex A
is 80°. Actually they should write,
means the measure of the angle.
I will use either convention.
The most common Greek letters used in trig are
= alpha ("al-fah"),
= beta ("bay-tah"),
= gamma ("gam-mah"),
= theta ("thay-tah"), and
= phi ("fee", not "fie"!).