Markdown Edit – Math Equations

Checkout the equation formatting:


The Easy Way

  1. Download and install the latest version of MDE.

  2. If upgrading from an previous version, delete the user_template.html file in C:\User\(your-user)\AppData\Roaming\Markdown Edit\

    Note: This configuration requires an Internet connection to download the MathJax files.

The Less Easy Way

If you’ve modified your template and want to keep those changes, you can make the changes manually.

Before you rush off and download MDE and try this, understand that you have some work ahead of you

  1. Download and install the latest version of Markdown Edit (1.17 at the time of this writing). It won’t work with earlier versions.

  2. Open the user_template.html file in notepad (do not use Microsoft Word!)

  3. Find the following line near the top:

    <!-- Don't delete this X-UA tag. The browser control behaves like IE8 otherwise -->
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=9">

    and change it IE=9 to IE=Edge (see below)

    <!-- Don't delete this X-UA tag. The browser control behaves like IE8 otherwise -->
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=Edge">
  4. Add the script lines as shown below. Insert them just above the closing body tag.

    <!-- Scripts to handle MathJax -->
    <script async src="https://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML"></script>
    <script async src="http://markdownedit.com/assets/js/mathjax-scripts.js"></script>
  5. Save the file and close notepad.

If you’re familiar with scripting in Web pages this is similar to what you already do. If not, find a knowledgeable person to walk you through it.

Details, Details, Details…

There are a number of ways to display equations in Web pages, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Instead of locking everyone into a single system, I’ve opted to keep MDE flexible and agnostic about external scripts. This gives everyone the option to hack and configure as they see fit. However, to quote the superhero axiom,

“With great power, comes great responsibility”

To begin, it helps to understand how the page life cycle of a the MDE preview works. It’s different than a traditional web page. If you’re accustomed to scripting in a traditional web page, you’ll have to do things differently.

  • First the template loads
    The HTML template (the file you can customize to change the appearance of the preview) is loaded. At this point, there is no content from the editor loaded. The document.loaded event is triggered.

    If you used JavaScript libraries like jQuery, you’re probably familiar with the document.ready handler. This will trigger as normal, but there won’t be any content loaded. It appears that your script is not working. In reality, there’s just no content to for your script to work on.

  • Editor loads the document
    Next, MDE loads your document. Once loaded, it updates the preview by injecting content into the document (that’s why you need that <div id="content"></div> element in the template.

  • Editing the document
    Every time you make a change to the text, MDE recomputes the HTML and injects it into the preview.

OK, so we have two problems here. First, the document.loaded event triggers before there is content to render. Secondly, the content changes as you edit. What’s a poor script writer to do?

The answer is that I had to add a custom event to preview that triggers whenever the preview is updated. Your script then has to, “listen” for this event and respond accordingly.

Here’s what’s in http://markdownedit.com/assets/js/mathjax-scripts.js

// Avoid undefined script pop up messages by prefixing with window.
window.document.addEventListener("previewUpdated", function () {
  if (window.MathJax) { 
    window.MathJax.Hub.Queue(["Typeset", window.MathJax.Hub]);

MDE triggers the custom previewUpdated event. The handler tells MathJax to typeset the equations.

I know this is a long-winded explanation, but if you want to add scripting to MDE’s preview, it’s something you must understand (and therefore I have to document as I am doing here).

Some additional notes

  • It’s really important to keep your scripts in separate files and load them asynchronously. Do not put script directly into the template. You’ll find that script will block the preview during the load sequence and can lead to some weird rendering (or no rendering at all).

  • Obviously, you have to be connected to the Internet for the MathJax script to download. If this is a problem, then download the scripts and install them locally. Remember to load these scripts asynchronously.

  • It’s fair to ask why I didn’t just build this in. The answer is complicated and I won’t bore you with details. Simply put, doing it this way allows you to choose. MathJax is only one way to display equations in a Web page. It may not fit every scenario. Also, this allows for other custom script renderings. It’s the responsibility part of the superhero axiom.

  • Inline rendering is accomplished with \\( ... \\). You can configure MathJax to use $ ... $, but it leads to some awkward situations with text involving currency symbols.


It took considerable effort to bring this functionality to MDE. While it may look like I just added a few scripts, it was quite the puzzle to understand and extend the internal Web Browser control to handle this. I won’t be surprised if there are some bugs on this one. Equation rendering is complicated and messy.

For those of you wanting to add your own scripts, consider this a recipe on how to do it. Just keep in mind that the Web page life cycle is different and that everything should be asynchronous.

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