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Peer Review

Math Notation via E-mail

by Karl Hahn


Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Oct 20, 2011 by Statistics Editorial Board
Overview: This website describes how to appropriately type mathematics into e-mails. It describes standard conventions and good practices for creating understandable equations via standard e-mail text editing.
Learning Goals: The goal of the site is to make users aware of the commonly used approaches in writing mathematical terms and formulas in email (when equation editing is not available). The site covers techniques for including powers, products, square roots, appropriate uses of parentheses, absolute values, derivatives, limits, summations, integrals, quotients and division, subscripts, inequalities, infinity, Greek letters, vector operations and special functions. The website provides a description on how to include each of these in an email and also gives examples of each.
Target Student Population: Any level mathematics or statistics student or professor who communicates in an online format.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Users need to know how to set the font of their email. Users also need to know the basic mathematical expressions (such as exponents, limits, greatest integer function, etc) for which the site is providing mathematical notation.
Type of Material: Reference Material
Recommended Uses: Is an excellent reference link for a syllabus in a traditional math or statistics class if a high volume of email communication is expected. Certainly very useful in an online course or format that does not have any other means of constructing mathematical notation (such as MathType).
Technical Requirements: Browser required for the website. Works in Firefox, Safari, Chrome and IE.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The website cohesively lists all good and appropriate practices for emailing with mathematical operators, equations, formulas and terms. The all-encompassing list provides easy access for typing up mathematics without an equation editor in one place. It also provides examples of how to use each email convention.
Concerns: For any other mathematical functions, the author does not mention whether there are generally accepted conventions for writing those in an email or not. The author does provide a link to another website ( that provides some other information on math notation in an email.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This is a nice reference for students to make emailing questions about mathematics to instructors more understandable and readable.
Concerns: An instructor might not necessarily use this as a teaching tool, but rather in conjunction with teaching and as a reference for students.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The fact that it is a very simple layout and the hyperlinks at the top allow a user to jump to a particular topic is a definite strength. The reference is easy to use and readable.
Concerns: A little more visual separation between each notation topic would give the webpage a little more defined structure. The KCT background sometimes makes this a little hard to read. A link at the bottom of each topic to return to the table of contents would be helpful to navigate.

Other Issues and Comments: This is a nice reference for students and teachers to make emails more readable in course communication.