I'm reading a book in which I spotted a mistake, I think. The full part of the sentence reads:

In mathematics formulas you can use \{ and \} for { and }, […]

Shouldn't this be “mathematical formulas”?

  • Is there a comma after mathematics rather than after the {and}? Are you certain you copied the text correctly? Dec 24, 2014 at 23:40
  • @scrappedcola No, there's no comma at that place and yes, I'm absolutely certain I copied the text correctly. Dec 24, 2014 at 23:42
  • Sounds really weird to me and I would suspect it is a error. Is it a translated book? Dec 24, 2014 at 23:46
  • @scrappedcola Yes, it sounds really weird to me, too, but before I bother the author/reviewing group I want to be sure this is an error. And no, it's written by someone whose native language is English. Dec 24, 2014 at 23:47
  • 2
    Oregon Departments of Education uses mathematics formulas, as do umpteem other places if you google the term. It is just a noun used as an adjective, like mathematics books.
    – user6951
    Dec 25, 2014 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


I believe the book you are reading is The TeXbook by Donald E. Knuth. Considering the name of the author, I believe that this is intentional rather than a typo.

In this book, you can find numerous places where he writes mathematical formula (and of course, mathematical formulas). However, also in the book are terms such as mathematics printing, mathematics mode, and mathematics typing.

So, in my humble opinion, the author uses the term mathematics formulas in this specific place (and it is the only place in the book that you will find this term) to emphasize the sense of typesetting. (I haven't seen anyone write mathematical formulas with \{ and \} in any book anyway.) In other words, he wants to remind the reader of the typesetting of mathematical formulas in the context of TeX, not mathematical formulas in general.

  • You're right about The TeXbook and it would be very strange that such an error would not be noticed over the past years. Dec 25, 2014 at 1:34
  • @MarcelKorpel: Particularly as it would be worth $2.56 to the person who reported the error. (However, for the last few years, the reward is paid out in fake money.) Dec 25, 2014 at 1:47
  • @NateEldredge I think this one is a good candidate to win the fake money. :-) It's arguable that "mathematical formulas" is at least equally good, imho. Dec 25, 2014 at 1:57

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