I am trying to use org mode to take notes in my math classes. It is awesome that org mode is integrated with LaTeX and partially with cdlatex. However, in a pure math class, the board is covered with things that draw on a wide variety of LaTeX packages and styles. Take abstract algebra for example: the symbols are often written in \mathcal or \mathbb, or a function is written in a way that would look best using \operatorname, or there's a commutative diagram, or an exact sequence where the arrows are labeled with \xrightarrow etc.

It's difficult to take notes on the fly in org mode if you have to type this all out. I am trying to get used to the workflow paradigm and organization style of org mode but the limited ability for LaTeX makes it challenging. For example:

  • I can put a "usepackage" header or a "newcommand" header at the top of an org-mode file; this will let me use more packages and speed up my typing by letting me write shortcuts, but I'd like to minimize the use of LaTeX headers in order to preserve the generality of the notes - if I refrain from depending on added packages or \newcommand, then I can still export the org files to HTML (with LaTeX through MathJax) if I want to. Is there any way for me to integrate packages or commands or something similar into my notes in a way that would still let me export to HTML if I wanted?

  • cdlatex has its functionality limited when you use it with Org mode: CDL is replaced with OCDL. I would love to be able to type ('b) after text and have it automatically wrapped in a \textbf, but this doesn't work in OCDL. What breaks if I just use the full CDL? Can I customize the features of cdlatex that can be enabled? cdlatex has TAB autocomplete for a certain list of environments - could I customize this to also autocomplete \operatorname, \textbf, or \mathbb?

Any advice you can give that would help me design a good note taking system would be appreciated!

1 Answer 1


I do it mostly in LaTeX itself. I don't really have stuff set up for org mode though. I basically use 1) YaSnippet 2) LaTeX-Math-Mode

since I need extra, easily accesible hotkeys I have ; and ' as modifiers. I just double press them for the actual symbols. for example ; f gives me \frac{}{} etc ' c K gives me \mathcal{K}

Autocomplete also helps for symbols without bindings

I have an example which I've just put up here if you want to see how I get it done


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