Display Notation with WaTeX

WebAssign provides a markup language—WaTeX—that you can use to display well-formatted math notation in your questions and assignments. WaTeX is similar in some respects to LaTeX in that both markup languages let you focus more on content and spend less time solving layout problems.

But because WaTeX is rendered in HTML and LaTeX is rendered as a static image, WaTeX has some clear benefits for online coursework:

  • WaTeX display can be enlarged with the browser settings to accommodate students with visual impairments.
  • WaTeX markup allows you to put answer boxes in your markup, so you can, for example, prompt students to provide the numerator of a fraction, the argument of a trigonometric function, or the bounds of an integral. You can also use WaTeX to format matrix or long division problems.

To use WaTeX markup in your questions or assignments, add the following code, where markup is any valid WaTeX notation:


The \[ and \] delimiters start and end WaTeX math mode. Usually, you will want to use math mode in WaTeX, but if needed, you can omit \[ and \] to use WaTeX markup without math mode.

Understanding Math Mode

Math mode in WaTeX corresponds to math mode in LaTeX, and provides the following behaviors to simplify entering math notation:

  • Alphabetic characters that are not part of a function name or Perl variable are presumed to be variables and are italicized.
  • Hyphens are replaced by minus signs.
  • Exponents can be typed using a caret (^).
  • Subscripts can be typed using an underscore (_).
  • To display non-italicized text such as words or units in math mode, enclose them in the WaTeX \pre{} notation.
  • In math mode, you cannot use any of the WebAssign HTML substitution tags, but this formatting can be performed using WaTeX.
Tip You can use WaTeX in Question or Solution. For multiple-choice, multiple-select, and matching questions, you can also use WaTeX in Answer. If your markup is very long, you might want to assign it (using double quotes) to a variable in Question and then reference that variable in Answer.
Note Do not use <p> tags in your WebAssign questions. Instead, use <br> to add a linebreak. <p> may not display correctly.