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Parentheses and brackets are very common in mathematical formulas. You can easily control the size and style of brackets in LaTeX; this article explains how.


Here's how to type some common math braces and parentheses in LaTeX:

Type LaTeX markup Renders as
Parentheses; round brackets (x+y) \((x+y)\)
Brackets; square brackets [x+y] \([x+y]\)
Braces; curly brackets \{ x+y \} \(\{ x+y \}\)
Angle brackets \langle x+y \rangle \(\langle x+y\rangle\)
Pipes; vertical bars |x+y| \(\displaystyle| x+y |\)
Double pipes \|x+y\| \(\| x+y \|\)

The size of brackets and parentheses can be manually set, or they can be resized dynamically in your document, as shown in the next example:

F = G \left( \frac{m_1 m_2}{r^2} \right)

 Open this LaTeX fragment in Overleaf

\[ F = G \left( \frac{m_1 m_2}{r^2} \right) \]

Notice that to insert the parentheses or brackets, the \left and \right commands are used. Even if you are using only one bracket, both commands are mandatory. \left and \right can dynamically adjust the size, as shown by the next example:

 \left[  \frac{ N } { \left( \frac{L}{p} \right)  - (m+n) }  \right]

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\[\left[ \frac{ N } { \left( \frac{L}{p} \right) - (m+n) } \right]\]

When writing multi-line equations with the align, align* or aligned environments, the \left and \right commands must be balanced on each line and on the same side of &. Therefore the following code snippet will fail with an errors:

y  = 1 + & \left(  \frac{1}{x} + \frac{1}{x^2} + \frac{1}{x^3} + \ldots  \\
  & \quad  + \frac{1}{x^{n-1}} + \frac{1}{x^n} \right)

 Open this LaTeX fragment in Overleaf (with errors)

The solution is to use "invisible" brackets to balance things out, i.e. adding a \right. at the end of the first line, and a \left. at the start of the second line after &:

y  = 1 + & \left(  \frac{1}{x} + \frac{1}{x^2} + \frac{1}{x^3} + \ldots \right. \\
  &\left. \quad + \frac{1}{x^{n-1}} + \frac{1}{x^n} \right)

 Open this LaTeX fragment in Overleaf


Controlling types and sizes

The size of the brackets can be controlled explicitly

Manually sized brackets

 \Bigg \langle 3x+7 \bigg \rangle


The commands \Bigg and \bigg stablish the size of the delimiters < and > respectively. For a complete list of parentheses and sizes see the reference guide.

Reference guide

LaTeX markup Renders as
\big( \Big( \bigg( \Bigg(
\big] \Big] \bigg] \Bigg]
\big\{ \Big\{ \bigg\{ \Bigg\{
\big \langle \Big \langle \bigg \langle \Bigg \langle
\big \rangle \Big \rangle \bigg \rangle \Bigg \rangle
\big| \Big| \bigg| \Bigg| \(\displaystyle\big| \; \Big| \; \bigg| \; \Bigg|\)
\big\| \Big\| \bigg\| \Bigg\| \(\displaystyle\big\| \; \Big\| \; \bigg\| \; \Bigg\|\)
\big \lceil \Big \lceil \bigg \lceil \Bigg \lceil \(\displaystyle\big \lceil \Big \lceil \bigg \lceil \Bigg \lceil\)
\big \rceil \Big \rceil \bigg \rceil \Bigg \rceil \(\displaystyle\big \rceil \Big \rceil \bigg \rceil \Bigg \rceil\)
\big \lfloor \Big \lfloor \bigg \lfloor \Bigg \lfloor \(\displaystyle\big \lfloor \Big \lfloor \bigg \lfloor \Bigg \lfloor\)
\big \rfloor \Big \rfloor \bigg \rfloor \Bigg \rfloor \(\displaystyle\big \rfloor \Big \rfloor \bigg \rfloor \Bigg \rfloor\)

Further reading

Overleaf guides

LaTeX Basics


Figures and tables

References and Citations


Document structure





Field specific

Class files

Advanced TeX/LaTeX