Is there a tool (application, online service) that helps writing the ugly formatting MathJax + mhchem code? I mean things like just typing Ctrl-B to get the selected text to bold is something else then typing $\ce{}$ to get H2O as $\ce{H2O}$

I do not mean a WYSIWYG editor like the onsite one, or stackedit.io (MathJax only). I mean the help with actual writing the formatting metacharacters. Like macro expansions, buttons for formatting or similar.

As the requirements for a fancy, typographically correct text does not seem to be balanced with the support of available editor tools.

I do not think MathJax + mhchem is difficult. Just boring and inconvenient to write the code, so any tool help is welcome.

The drawback of the extensive MathJax formatting by others, even if well intended, is, that one may not be able to edit his own formulas anymore. As they may become so complicated one may lose the track of the formula structures and hierarchies, getting into code pairing hell. :-(

I suppose such formatting should not be done soon after last editing, in case the question/answer author is going to update the text.

  • $\begingroup$ I am only aware of this editor, which has a bit of click-it-together codecogs.com/latex/eqneditor.php It does not support mhchem. This one also came up, same issue: latex4technics.com $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ I do not say it is that difficult to understand, I guess I have already got the most of typical usage. the communiuty help is here as well. It is rather very inconvenient to type it. Imagine you would use MathJax-like formatting of rich text in Microsoft Word or like. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 17:46
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I personally have nightmares trying to use the tools that come with Word, but that is my personal preference. I use privately latex, but I am forced to work with Microsoft products at work. So what you find inconvenient is exactly the other way around for me. I recognise that this has a bit of a learning curve, but apparently that is the best Stackoverflow is able to offer. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ I spend much less time by writing the context than by formatting it. the fact I am not a great keyboard typer does not help either. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ I copy and paste as much as I can, often from the OPs question when I answer a question. That way, I don't have to format the chemical equations that are already in the question. $\endgroup$
    – Karsten Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I do that too. :-) $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 18:41

1 Answer 1


Yes, see Introducing: Markdown Shortcuts for StackExchange. Of course, this doesn't change the fact that you will need to learn a new bunch of shortcuts (or customise them). That is all we really have, though. There is no way around the fact that formatting equations, etc. properly requires some learning.

Using TeX syntax here (or something that is pretty close to it) is probably the best we can do. TeX is at least somewhat familiar to many scientists, formatting most stuff does not require much more than a very basic knowledge of it, and there are lots of people to edit posts anyway.

  • $\begingroup$ Looks promising. I had in mind functional equivalent, using one of my favourite Windows plain text editors NoteTab. It has its own scripting language, and aside of many things, it can do such a "text wrapping" by writing a library of macros with custom menus. I used it extensively in work, defining a set of series of PCRE text replacement, automating boring manual text processing. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 2:40
  • $\begingroup$ It works.... :-) I am looking forward to customizations. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm, "there are lots of people to edit posts anyway". Not a good argument, but there are some nice people out there. I have btw noticed a certain increase in the review backlog of late but this may be seasonal? $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 19:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @NightWriter, of course it isn't an excuse to avoid learning it, but more like it's acceptable to rely on others a bit while picking it up. That wasn't entirely clear, I guess. Anyway, I am sorry, but I cannot say anything about the review queue; the number of times I've looked at it in the past year is countable on one hand. Since mod decisions are binding, there is little for us to do there anyway. The community should be (and is) primarily in charge of making decisions like those in the review queue. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 20:16

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