Why are the basic (math/chemical) formatting hints https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/help/notation not always displayed next to the form where users enter new questions, and why is the elementar \ce{ } notation for chemical formulas missing?

Why are they not shown at all when I write up an answer?

Can we please have chemistry-specific formatting hints on chem.SE?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Probably because those tools are chemistry-specific and the text displayed there is standardised across Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2018 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ Related: A Link to common notation and symbols on the Tour page $\endgroup$
    – user7951
    Sep 15, 2018 at 10:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I concur it might reduce the amount of editing needed on first posts $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Sep 18, 2018 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ Can it be that you are using SOX? Though this would also hide some other garbage as well, not only formatting hints. $\endgroup$
    – andselisk Mod
    Apr 14, 2019 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ I noticed that this is not actually a feature-request, so I have retagged it as discussion. $\endgroup$ Apr 23, 2019 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


The box which is displayed is more or less a standard template.

MathJax is not enabled on every site, and not on every of them the mhchem package is enabled by default. There have been various changes to the site, some of them very recently (like Ch-ch-ch-changes: Left nav, responsive design, & themes and others), and we (moderators) have not tracked all these changes. As such, there might be an opportunity to make a (real) to include such a thing.

I did not find any possibility to edit this, so we need to elevate this. There is certainly some flexibility as there is a link that point to the rather extensive How can I format math/chemistry expressions here?:

screenshot with freehand circle to highlight the link to the tutorial

For reference, this isn't the first time it comes up: Spreading awareness about using \ce{....}

The help centre did not always work as smoothly as it does now, see Error on Help Page (Boi did it take time finding that again!)

How to continue?

Maybe it is worth taking the time to revisit the whole thing again. I thought I could turn this post into an actual feature request, but then I realised it is already 6 months old, so I guess a new post would stand a better chance. (And I guess it would be a good idea to wait out the coming elections.) In any case, the request should be phrased like one, for example:

Mention the mhchem syntax \ce{...} in the "How to Format" box displayed when writing a new question.
[... reasons ... reasons ...]

When that gets a good amount of votes, but no reply, we (the moderators) could use different communication ways to get a final verdict and settle this issue.


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