# Displaying LaTeX in Atom’s Live Markdown Preview

#### The Atom editor

I’ve been using the Atom editor for a few months and I am very pleased with it overall. It doesn’t beat well-developed, language-specific IDEs such as R-Studio or iPython Notebooks, but it works very well for general purpose editing and in cases where there isn’t a comprehensive IDE available (e.g., Julia). It has an active development community and that translates into a lot of extensibility. It has broad support for syntax highlighting and markdown editing, including a very helpful live markdown preview. Both of those features make writing markdown with embedded code very easy.

However, when I recently tried to include some LaTeX in one of my markdown files I hit a roadblock. Atom doesn’t support LaTeX in markdown previews out of the box and the solution took a little longer to find than I think it should have. Ergo, I’m posting this information in hopes that it might help others find the solution faster.

#### Defining the parameters

To be clear, this isn’t about rendering .tex files in Atom. if you’re looking for a package to build and display pure .tex files, that’s fairly straightforward – start with the latex package.

The goal here is to display LaTeX blocks and inline LaTeX in markdown, i.e., .md file previews. Being clear on that distinction can save you a good bit of time, as getting the latex package set up can take a while and it’s not required at all for markdown files. If you start there, you’ll waste an hour or two of your valuable time.

#### Markdown Preview Plus

The key to getting LaTeX to display in Atom markdown previews is the Markdown Preview Plus package. It is a fork of the core markdown preview package that adds several features, one of which is LaTeX support (via MathJax*).

What this package does can be a little unclear from the description, with some people assuming it provides support for .tex files (it does not). But I assure you, if you’re looking to preview LaTeX in your .md files this is what you want.

The install is simple:

apm install markdown-preview-plus

then disable the markdown preview package that ships with Atom (markdown-preview). Details on the installation process are here, if you need them.

After that, you need to know how to use the package. The docs are pretty clear that ctrl-shift-m opens a preview and ctrl-shift-x turns on math support, but that’s only half the battle. If you try to use straight LaTeX from there you’ll get no love. The key is in this doc – namely, you need to add  to delineate your math blocks and \$ for inline math.

#### And you’re done

With that information in hand, you should be good to go, hopefully in less time than it would have taken otherwise.

* The distinction between LaTeX and MathJax may or may not be important for your purposes.