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Tips for entering various symbols in LyX

This page gives tips and examples of how to enter various symbols in LyX, either in the math mode or in normal text mode.

Please add tips on how to actually enter the symbols...

1.  Latex symbols in Math mode

In general, if you're used to Latex, then you can simply enter Latex codes such as \rightarrow in math mode, and LyX will display most of the symbols correctly (you may have to press the SPACE key or move the cursor before LyX displays the symbol). For some symbols there exist faster ways of entering them, so you may be interested in reading on.

2.  The Math Panel

The Math Panel provides a visual, mouse-oriented way of selecting symbols. Open the math panel using the menu command Insert / Math / Math Panel (alternatively, right-click on your mathematical formula), and look up your symbol in the various tables provided there. If you want to know the keyboard equivalent of a symbol, you will find that hovering over a symbol or button will show you the symbol's code. For instance, for the set union symbol it shows \cup, which means that you have to type \cup to get the set union symbol.

3.  Entering Greek symbols in Math mode

ATTENTION: Direct input of unicode characters in math-mode does not work out of the box. This is a basic LaTeX problem. It has been discussed in the "unicode in math" thread in the lyx-users list, where some workarounds have been proposed.

There are several ways of entering greek symbols. Of course, there is the Latex way of entering \alpha, but there is also the possibility to use keyboard shortcuts. In general, a Greek symbol is generated by Meta-m (for "math") followed by g (for "greek") followed by the latin equivalent of the symbol. For instance, Meta-m, g, a will get you alpha (&alpha);. Sometimes the bindings may be based on shape more than on equivalence, for instance, Psi (ψ) Meta-m, g, y will get you ψ, while y is actually the equivalent of the ypsilon a.k.a. upsilon, which you get using Meta-m, g, u.

NOTE: When you are using Windows, or any other system that has no Meta key, you should read Alt wherever this page says Meta.

4.  Math mode keyboard shortcuts for symbols

Several common mathematical symbols and constructs have keyboard shortcuts. What follows is a list of the ones provided in the LyX default configuration. Please read "Meta-m" wherever this list says M-m. Disclaimer: different versions of LyX may have slightly different bindings.

  • Fraction: M-m f
  • Square root: M-m s
  • General root: M-m r
  • Summation (Sigma): M-m u (or \sum)
  • Integral: M-m i (or \int)
  • Integral sign with a circle in the middle: M-m y (or \oint)
  • Partial (curly delta): M-m p
  • Infinity sign: M-m 8
  • Plus-or-minus: M-m + (or \pm)
  • Not-equal: M-m =

The following shortcuts are for common decorations on top of symbols:

  • Single dot: M-m .
  • Two dots above: M-m "
  • Hat: M-m h
  • Grave: M-m * Acute: M-m /
  • Tilde: M-m &
  • Bar: M-m -
  • Vector (arrow): M-m v
  • v (\check): M-m Shift-V
  • u (\breve): M-m Shift-U
  • Overline: M-m b
  • Underbar: M-m _ (this one goes below the symbol, obviously)
  • "Prime" (\prime): M-m '

The following keys produce a frame surrounded by parentheses/brackets/braces that scale with the contents of the frame. These frames can also be produced from the delimiter and bracket dialog, which is reachable from a button on the left of the Math Panel. This dialog has more flexibility than these shortcuts, for instance, they allow you to have a symbol on only one side of the frame.

  • Parentheses (): M-m (
  • Square brackets []: M-m [
  • Curly braces {}: M-m {
  • Angled brackets <>: M-m <
  • Inverted angled brackets ><: M-m >

In addition to these symbol shortcuts, the following shortcuts may be useful for entering math:

  • Add spacing: M-m space or Control+space (these give you a standard-size space, the Math Panel allows you to pick spaces of various widths)
  • Superscript: M-m e, or simply ^ (without the M-m)
  • Subscript: M-m x or simply _ (without the M-m)
  • Normal text inside math: M-m m or Control-m

If you need extra key bindings, you can add your own KeyboardShortcuts by changing a file called math.bind file.

5.  Other sources of information

CTAN has a comprehensive list of symbols available in PDF and other formats.

6.  Links


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Page last modified on 2011-04-15 16:17 UTC