It's the obvious question: TeX/LaTeX isn't all about design and typography, but -- shall we say -- the conversation does tend that way quite often.

Good design is first off about being functional (function over form, and all that), but I think a site like this can perhaps get away with being more obviously, or more self-consciously, stylish than others in the same stable.

Myself, I'd go for wall-to-wall Helvetica and oodles of white space. But opinions may reasonably differ.

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    Line length limited to 68 characters of course ;-) – David Z Jul 26 '10 at 21:32
  • As a quick little test, I tried setting the default font on the beta site to helvetica, latin modern roman, latin modern sans and verdana respectively. The results are here: jalf.dk/texoverflow. Note that I don't actually have Helvetica installed (and most users won't), so it looks like it falls back to Arial by default :( – jalf Jul 28 '10 at 14:43
  • As far as choice of font goes, is anyone here keeping up with web development? Do we actually have a real option of using non-default fonts hosted on the site? A quick Google search seems to indicate that it can work in all major browsers, but I don't know the details and various caveats. It seems like a pretty important question though, as we're otherwise limited to the same "web-safe fonts" we've had for 15-years. – jalf Jul 28 '10 at 15:02

Another idea, as TeX is all about care for the smallest typographic detail, it would be nice if "quotes" would automatically typeset educated “quotes” instead of the boring "quotes".

  • I type ``quotes'' like this here =) – Dima Jul 28 '10 at 14:21
  • Perhaps this should be made an explicit feature request. (And yeah, auto-converting `` '' to the proper “ ” as LaTeX does it would be perfectly acceptable. – jalf Jul 28 '10 at 14:51
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    while we're at it, support for em- and en- dashes would be handy too (converted from -- and ---) – jalf Jul 28 '10 at 15:04
  • both good suggestions! – Juan A. Navarro Jul 28 '10 at 16:04
  • I'll add a new feature request for this. – Juan A. Navarro Jul 28 '10 at 16:18
  • I started another thread asking for this feature, but it is not being well received! meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/141/… – Juan A. Navarro Jul 28 '10 at 20:20

Precision, Quality, Beauty

IMHO these are the main goals behind TeX typesetting, hence these qualities should scream. It would be amazing to generate all graphics for the website using *TeX.

For example I like http://www.texample.net/tikz/ because it has nice curly graphics, sharp aesthetic lines and TikZ related line decorations.


I actually like the current construction paper look very much. If at all possible, I’d propose using it for the final site. There may be no direct connection to TeX but there is one to layout and design.


What's the status on web fonts? Latin Modern would be an obvious font choice, given its ubiquity in LaTeX documents, assuming there's a portable way to make it available in visitors' browsers.

Nothing screams LaTeX like that font. :)

  • Interesting idea, but I have my doubts that there's a portable way to make it available. The site stylesheet could always just specify that first and fall back to Helvetica or something. – David Z Jul 27 '10 at 1:46
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    In my opinion, Helvetica or Verdana should be the fonts of the site, as they are the best ones to read text on screen. Latin Modern is a great family font, but only to read text on paper. – Julian Lamas-Rodriguez Jul 27 '10 at 8:05
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    @Auron: I'm not arguing against Helvetica, but I've never really thought of LM as a bad screen font. – jalf Jul 28 '10 at 12:52

Playing with the Developer Tools in Chrome I just edited the css of the site to change the font to Helvetica. It does look nice!

Site in Helvetica

  • problem is, most users don't have Helvetica installed. Sure, the site can fall back to the various system-provided would-be Helveticas, but... what's the point then? – jalf Jul 27 '10 at 15:29
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    But there will be good choices amongst the platform fonts on the various platforms. For example, OS X has Helvetica Neue, Windows 7 appears to have a healthy list of installed fonts, one of which will be better than the others, and there will be some optimal choice on various Linux distributions. – Norman Gray Jul 27 '10 at 19:07
  • @Norman: but the quality and "Helvetica-ness" of them varies quite a bit. – jalf Jul 28 '10 at 12:53

I know that this has been discussed in other posts, but I would like to see MathJax, or equivalent, enabled on TeX.SX.

The arguments against seem to be that MathJax etc don't support all of TeX and that on this site we actually want to see the code, but I don't buy this. Currently to display the "raw tex" input we type ...raw TeX... or we indent the code. On the other hand, MathJax only operates (or could be made to operate) with the different markup of $...raw TeX...$ or $$...raw TeX...$$.

As far as I can see there is no conflict in having MathJax convert basic TeX commands such as $\alpha$ to something that is friendlier to the eye --- clearly, we won't want to be able to display arbitrary TeX commands this way -- and using backticks and indentation to display the underlying code. Why can't we have the best of both worlds? Especially given the comments about beauty above!

Judging from other posts, mine is a minority viewpoint. That's OK, I am happy to agree to disagree.

  • How can we provide MWE if MathJax is trying to run the code and shows LaTeX error constantly when it grabs the dollars in the code? – percusse Aug 14 '14 at 13:49
  • @percusse But that's my point: this won't ever happen if MathJax is disabled inside text enclosed in backticks or inside indented code blocks. – user30471 Aug 14 '14 at 13:53
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    Well probably you should have taken this to meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1272/… but still I'm pretty sure the site will be crawling with red, unrendered MathJaX syntax. Also if you need to please the eye only and not bother with TeX then why not use unicode input? Trying to explain a new user why TeX result is not like MathJax is also another major issue that i would definitely avoid. – percusse Aug 14 '14 at 14:17
  • @percusse Ah, that's an issue I hadn't considered: I agree, explaining this to new people would be a nightmare. – user30471 Aug 14 '14 at 14:27
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    It doesn't really make sense to add this idea into a 4-year-old thread discussing how the site should be designed. It would make sense to do it as a proper feature request, but that has been done many times before and rejected many times before. – yo' Aug 15 '14 at 8:43

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