Use Wikicities' TeX fonts for rendering math on Wikimedia projects
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Author: mbeychok

I compared a mathematical equation created by using the
math markup language at WikiCities with the same equation
created with the math markup language at Wikipedia. The
equation created at WikiCities has remarkably smaller and
tidier font than the equation created at Wikipedia.

I respectfully suggest that Wikipedia also make the
WikiCities math markup version available ... not
necessarily as a replacement for the current math markup
language but as an alternate option.

I am very new to the Wiki world (about 2 weeks) and I hope
this is the proper place for my suggestion. If not, please
excuse me and tell me where I should offer my suggestion.

Milton Beychok

Version: unspecified
Severity: enhancement


bzimport added a subscriber: Unknown Object (MLST).
bzimport set Reference to bz4915.
bzimport created this task.Feb 8 2006, 5:38 AM

mbeychok wrote:

If you want a side-by-side comparision of the two
equations, go to [[User talk:AySz88]] on the main
Wikipedia website and scroll down to item 44 on the
Content list you will find there.

julianbeard wrote:

I am currently engaged in the EB1911 prject on Wikisource. Many of the scientific
articles there (for example Infinitesimal Calculus) have large equations inline
with the text. Due to nature of Wikisource, I cannot change the layout to make
display equations out of inline ones. The current TeX rendering looks awful
inline, especially with fractions or symbols like integral. The version on
Wikicities would be much neater for these equations.

I, like Milton Beychok, do not advocate replacing the current TeX font, but making
avialble the option to use the smaller one - maybe tags like <maths>Small
Equation</maths> (i.e. math, small) if the Wikicities output is desired.

Julian Beard (jjbeard; Wikisource, Wikipedia, Commons)

brion added a comment.May 8 2006, 5:52 AM

What smaller font?

mbeychok wrote:

This is the smaller TeX font available at WikiCities:


This is the same equation using the Wikipedia font:


Milton Beychok

mbeychok wrote:

Let's try my last comment again:

This is the smaller TeX font available at WikiCities:


This is the same equation using the Wikipedia font:
[[Image:Large Tex Font.png]]

Milton Beychok

mbeychok wrote:

Sorry, this just isn't my night. Wish there was a way
to preview these comments before finalizing. One more

This is the smaller TeX font available at WikiCities:


This is the same equation using the Wikipedia font:
[[Image:Large TeX Font.png]]

Milton Beychok

apw wrote:

I support the requests by Milton Beychock and Julien Beard. The font size of the
present version is just too large for the text it accompanies on both WSP and
WS. On the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica project on WS this will be an ongoing
problem as more texts are entered.

I also advocate changing the font used from the serifed (Times Roman?) to the
sans serif (Ariel?) if at all possible. It is aesthetically ugly to mix designs
in this way. On WS we try to achieve pages that are visually good. The present
TeX font makes this hard.

Tony Woolrich (User:Apwoolrich on WP and WS. Admin on WS

zvikabh wrote:

I disagree with Mbeychok. Sometimes equations need to be shown in larger type,
since screen resolution is smaller than that of print, and equations sometimes
have smaller fonts. Please see

mbeychok wrote:

Zvika, you didn't read my suggestion closely enough. Read it
again and please note the word "option" which I put in bold
print. The idea is to have the smaller font as an
alternative option. For example, to use the smaller font:
perhaps we could use <nowiki><maths> instead of
<math></nowiki>. Then I could use the smaller font when I
wanted to or I could use the larger font when it is needed
(as you very correctly pointed out). Regards, -
[[User:Mbeychok|mbeychok]] 21:44, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

The short answer is "nobody really knows how the math renderer setup
works, so we can't make a configuration change about it without more
detailed information".

mbeychok wrote:


(1) If you will visit my Wikipedia storage sandbox section
of "TeX fonts" at [[User:Mbeychok/MRB's storage sandbox#TeX
fonts]], you will see a side-by-side comparison the current
Wikipedia TeX font and the smaller WikiCities TeX font each
used to create the same equation.

(2) As well as being a Wikipedian, I am a participant in the
WikiCities "Atmospheric Dispersion Wiki" at The
<math> and </math> tags found there produce the smaller TeX
font using the identical math markup as Wikipedia does.

(3) Angela Beesley is one of the key WikiCities administrators
or Sysops and she can be reached at ... she
would probably know where they acquired their version of TeX.

(4) I am a retired chemical engineer, and I know next to
nothing about computer programming. I've told you all that I
can. All I can say further is that someone amongst the
programmers or developers at Wikipedia and/or WikeCities SURELY
MUST KNOW how to make the smaller font available as an
alternative option on Wikipedia.

(5) If I may ask, when you say "... we can't make a
configuration change about it without more detailed
information", who is "we"? Are you one of the Wikipedia
programmers or developers? If you are, my hat is off to you for
creating the marvelous software used on Wikipedia ... and I
hope the information above will help you create the smaller TeX
font option.

Regards, Milt Beychok


robchur wrote:

(In reply to comment #11)
Brion wears multiple hats; he's the lead developer and release manager for
MediaWiki, and he's also Wikimedia's Chief Technical Officer. :)

averykins wrote:

As I am staying with a large amount of family, most of which have graduate
degrees or beyond and are familiar with seeing complex equations, I had them
look at each version.

Out of 11 people, ages 25 to 72, the younger viewers preferred the smaller font,
while the elderly viewers found it to be illegible. It should be noted that
fonts in the equation do not allow for end-user scaling. 7 out of 11 were able
to read the proposed optional version of the TeX font option, however all 7 use
no corrective lenses and are all under the age of 43, the remaining 4 were all
ages 43 to 72. For the original font, every person involved my small test could
read and recite the equation with little struggle. I am 25 years old with
corrective lenses and a 17" monitor, and I need to squint to see the superscript

The major factor here, in my beleif, is scalability and legibility of the font
being used, first and foremost. Once scalability and legibility are achieved, I
would enjoy seeing smaller TeX font option available.

I hope this test has presented previously ungathered data on the subject.
Again, I am opposed to an option to implement the smaller TeX font, as it
clearly will make articles illegible or difficult to read as people grow older,
at least in my family.




I think it would be nice to have on option for TeX font size - but that should
be a per-user option, not per-formula! If we had that, the default could perhaps
be smaller than it is now.

Also, MathML support would really be nice - then the font size would be up to
the browser. But since translating TeX to MathML seems tricky, maybe there
should be an alternative tag <mathml> or something.

phi1ipp wrote:

Large size should be default - small size can often render subscripts illegible.

mbeychok wrote:

Avery Dauphin:

You raised an interesting point. I should note that I am 83
years old and wear glasses ... and have no problem with the
smaller font. I would also speculate that the number of
elderly people (say 60+) who would have vision problems and
would be using Wikipedia is probably relatively small.

But the key point is this request is for an alternative option
to use the smaller font now being used by WikiCities.

lethe wrote:

I'm against this proposal in its current form. It will lead to inconsistent
sizes by allowing different editors to choose different sizes.

ksmrq wrote:

As others have pointed out, introducing a <maths> tag would compound our present
headaches. Don't do it.

Mathematics within Wikipedia using texvc is, and will remain, awkward. Font
sizes are only one of many issues. Mainstream usage within the Wikipedia
mathematics community is PNG form (forced, if necessary) for displayed equations
and wiki markup inline. The most promising alternative is probably [[BlahTeX]],
which gives the reader the option to be served [[MathML]]. Advantages of MathML
include user size adjustment consistently throughout the page, attractive and
base-aligned inline formulae, speakability for blind readers, and cut-and-paste
compatibility with mathematical software.

It's wonderful to see some interest in improving Wikipedia mathematics
typesetting. Please redirect that interest in a more helpful direction, such as
supporting BlahTeX. One of the exciting, long-awaited, enablers should fall into
place Real Soon Now: the public release of the [ STIX
fonts]. Already MathML support is available in Mozilla browsers like [[Firefox]]
and as a plugin for [[Internet Explorer]].

zvikabh wrote:

The issue of MathML vs. LaTeX has already come up several times (see for a summary). It seems to
me that while MathML is more aesthetically pleasing, it will make life much
harder for editors wishing to add or edit equations. Compare the encoding of
"x^2 + y^2 = 1" in both markups. LaTeX has the further advantage that the
mathematics and science communities use it almost exclusively. It is my
impression that most math-oriented editors are happy with the current LaTeX version.

Having two different types of math tags does not necessarily mean more
inconsistency. I does, however, imply the need to define the rules of when each
is used. For example, we may have an inline math tag (similar to the $ ... $ tag
in LaTeX) and a displayed math tag (similar to \[ ... \] in LaTeX). These have
separate uses: inline math is used within a paragraph of text, e.g., if I want
to say right here in the middle of the sentence that x^2=1; whereas displayed
math is rendered on a separate line, for example,

x^2 = 1.

In LaTeX, an (automatic) attempt is made to have inline equations take up the
ordinary line height, if possible; while in displayed equations this is not
critical. In Wiki, we could additionally manifest this distinction as a
difference in font size.

ksmrq wrote:

Zvika, I can only assume you did not bother to look at [[BlahTeX]] if you think
I'm proposing that Wikipedia editors markup their equations with MathML. This is
no different from using wiki pipe syntax for tables but serving the browsers
proper HTML table markup. We use whatever we like for our markup (currently a
poor imitation of TeX), internally convert it to MathML, and let the browsers do
the pretty display. BlahTeX is constantly tested against all the ''existing''
<math> markup to verify compatibility. Do you think each of the PNGs used for an
equation was created by hand using a graphics editor for PNG? Don't confuse what
WikiMedia software ''serves'' (under reader control) with what editors ''write''.

I have suggested a simple concrete solution to the font problem in Bug 7208. I
am not sure whether this is the font used on Wikicities or not, so I did not
post it as a reply here.

And for the record: I am not in favour of using sans-serif fonts for math. They
are less readable (especially the Greeks). Of course, you can in principle scale
them down to smaller sizes, but a lower case lambda that is made of two straight
lines is not very readable, I think (and I guess standard math symbols such as
\sum and \int are not acceptable in sans-serif font either). illustrates how I prefer
the Greeks to look like.

  • Markus Krötzsch

physik wrote:

"This bug looks to tweak the size of the images produced by texvc. I think this
should simply be a WONTFIX. While it may look nice on his browser, at some
scale. The real issue is to get the fonts of the math and the surrounding text
to match. That would be a lot f work to make texvc do something like that.
Mathml/Mathjax are better suited to these tasks."
^^ I agree with the comment from

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