MathML: A Sure Sine That X Have Δ'd

The MathML Standard and What it Means for Scholarly and Academic Publishers

Like other human languages, math uses agreed-upon symbols and syntax to represent abstractions, allowing one person to convey meaning to someone else. In the past, publishers have used carefully designed type reproductions of formulas to communicate mathematical concepts. While these were more difficult (and costly) than simple typesetting, they required no special technology to render math as ink on paper. 

However, with the advent of digital publishing, things changed. 

MathML originated in April 1998 by the W3C to provide a markup language for describing mathematical notations and capturing both its structure and content. As with other markup languages, MathML has undergone significant changes and the current version, MathML 3.0, was just finalized June 23, 2015. The latest version is increasingly used by publishers and service providers. It's an elegant solution that ensures math is rendered accurately.

But things get tricky online.

For scholarly and journal publishers, the day-to-day challenge is to render mathematical concepts as accurately on digital devices as they have done in print. Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari are the only two browsers that officially support MathML. (Though truth be told, I experienced issues on Safari while researching this article.) Google Chrome recently dropped native MathML support, to the chagrin of the math community. But native browser support is not a show-stopper for publishing math online.

The fine folks at the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics provide an open source JavaScript library, MathJax, to render MathML on multiple browsers. However the inherent complexity of juggling MathJax, browsers, mobile devices, end users, and the content itself, makes working with a service provider an obvious solution to the problem of proper math presentation.

We just published a white paper, "Publishing by the Numbers: The MathML Standard and What it Means for Scholarly and Academic Publishers." Download your copy today and learn more about

  • the considerations with presentation and content MathML
  • best practices publishers use today
  • mobile display issues that are critical to understand
  • and more



MathML White Paper- Publishing by the Numbers

Cenveo Publisher Services provides MathML to publishers