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Introduction

This article shows how to add mathematical symbols into your documents by using the Symbol Palette — a quick and convenient way to insert math symbols into your document.

The Symbol Palette is a premium Overleaf feature, and is available to all users who have a subscription (either an individual subscription or as part or a group or institutional license).

You can find details of our individual and group subscriptions on our Plans & Pricing page, and a list of subscribing institutions can be found on our Overleaf for Institutions page.

Adding symbols to your document

To open the Symbol Palette, click the Ω button at the top of the editor. It’s available in Source and Rich Text mode.

Accessing the Overleaf Symbol Palette

The Symbol Palette will open at the bottom of the editor window.

The Overleaf Symbol Palette

You can resize it by clicking and dragging the handle up and down. To close it, click the Ω button again.

The Symbol Palette has a selection of commonly-used mathematical symbols. You can browse them or search by typing their name or an alias into the Search box.

All symbols contained in the Symbol Palette are designed for use within mathematical content, which means they need to be inserted at a point where the LaTeX document compiler will be in so-called math mode.

Don’t know anything about math mode? Read on...

Math mode

The symbols in the Symbol Palette need to be inserted into your document in math mode for them to be compiled correctly. This means that they must be enclosed within special math markup:

  • To put your equations in inline mode enclose it within the delimiters: \( \) or $ $. You can also place it within the math environment: \begin{math} \end{math}.
  • To put your equations in display math mode, use either \[ \] or \begin{equation} \end{equation}

This also applies to symbols such as subscripts (_), integrals (\int), Greek letters (\alpha, \beta, \delta) and modifiers (\vec{x}, \tilde{x}).

If you’d like to learn more about math mode, we have a short explanation here and for a more general overview of writing math in LaTeX, check out Learn LaTeX in 30 minutes—in particular, the section Adding math to LaTeX.

If you add one of these symbols outside math mode, you will see some errors when compiling your document. The error you will see depends on what else is in your document, but a common error seen when you have symbols outside math mode is Missing $ inserted

Packages

Some symbols require you to use extra packages—if you hover on the symbol, the tooltip will tell you which package you need:

Symbol Palette advising need of a LaTeX package

For example, in this case, to use the \iint symbol you need to make sure you have \usepackage{amsmath} in your document preamble, i.e. before the \begin{document} statement.

To see the packages Overleaf supports, read What packages do you support?

Further Reading

We have plenty of help articles, here are some that you might be interested in:

Overleaf guides

LaTeX Basics

Mathematics

Figures and tables

References and Citations

Languages

Document structure

Formatting

Fonts

Presentations

Commands

Field specific

Class files

Advanced TeX/LaTeX