Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) 1.01 Specification

W3C Recommendation, revision of 7 July 1999

REC-MathML-19980407; revised 19990707

This version:
Latest version:
Previous version:
Patrick Ion <ion@ams.org>
(Mathematical Reviews / American Mathematical Society)
Robert Miner <rminer@geomtech.com>
(Geometry Technologies, Inc.)
Principal Writers:
Stephen Buswell, Stan Devitt, Angel Diaz, Patrick Ion, Robert Miner,
Nico Poppelier, Bruce Smith, Neil Soiffer, Robert Sutor, Stephen Watt


This specification defines the Mathematical Markup Language, or MathML. MathML is an XML application for describing mathematical notation and capturing both its structure and content. The goal of MathML is to enable mathematics to be served, received, and processed on the Web, just as HTML has enabled this functionality for text.

This specification of the markup language MathML is intended primarily for a readership consisting of those who will be developing or implementing renderers or editors using it, or software that will communicate using MathML as a protocol for input or output. It is not a User's Guide but rather a reference document.

This document begins with background information on mathematical notation, the problems it poses, and the philosophy underlying the solutions MathML proposes. MathML can be used to encode both mathematical notation and mathematical content. Twenty-eight of the MathML tags describe abstract notational structures, while another seventy-five provide a way of unambiguously specifying the intended meaning of an expression. Additional chapters discuss how the MathML content and presentation elements interact, and how MathML renderers might be implemented and should interact with browsers. Finally, this document addresses the issue of MathML entities (extended characters) and their relation to fonts.

While MathML is human-readable it is anticipated that, in all but the simplest cases, authors will use equation editors, conversion programs, and other specialized software tools to generate MathML. Several early versions of such MathML tools already exist, and a number of others, both freely available software and commercial products, are under development.

Status of this document

This document has been reviewed by W3C Members and other interested parties and has been endorsed by the Director as a W3C Recommendation. It is a stable document and may be used as reference material or cited as a normative reference from another document. W3C's role in making the Recommendation is to draw attention to the specification and to promote its widespread deployment. This enhances the functionality and interoperability of the Web.

The fundamental eXtensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 specification upon which MathML is based has been adopted as a W3C Recommendation. Should future changes in the XML specification necessitate changes in the MathML specification, it is the intention of the W3C Math Working Group to issue a revision of the MathML specification. However, any changes are very unlikely to be substantial.

Most of this document represents technology tested by multiple implementations. A summary of MathML rendering and authoring software is described on the W3C Math Working Group home page.

The www-math mailing list is a public forum for questions and comments about MathML and issues related to putting math on the Web.

The W3C Math Working Group intends further development of recommendations for mathematics on the Web, as set out below.

A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical reports can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR.

This document is a revised version of the document first released on 7 April 1998. Changes from the original version are only editorial in nature. The present W3C Math Working Group is working on further improvements of MathML.

Available formats

The MathML 1.01 W3C Recommendation is made available in different formats from the W3C Math WG's site. In case of a discrepancy between any of the derived forms and that found in the W3C's archive of Recommendations the definitive version is naturally the Recommendation. At first it is expected that zipped and gzipped bundles will be made available, but such easily printable formats as PostScript or PDF may be supplied.

Available languages

The English version of this specification is the only normative version. However, for translations of this document, see http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/mathml101-updates/translations.html.


The list of known errors in this specification is available at:

Please report errors in this document to www-math@w3.org.

Table of contents

Extended Table of Contents