[OS X TeX] Multicolumn lists

Ross Moore ross at ics.mq.edu.au
Tue May 19 17:38:52 EDT 2009

Hi John,

On 20/05/2009, at 5:56 AM, John B. Thoo wrote:

> Hello, everyone.  I apologize that this is not strictly a Mac TeX  
> question.  If this is inappropriate, please delete it; however, I  
> would appreciate any help.
> My question is this: How can I create a multicolumn list with the  
> item numbers aligned horizontally?  This doesn't work:
> \usepackage[]{multicol}
> ...

No; multicol  will not do it for you, as it fills the columns

> \begin{enumerate} \itemsep 2ex
> \begin{multicols}{2}
>   \item  $x + \dfrac{1}{8} x = 12$
>   \item  $x + \dfrac{1}{4} x + \dfrac{1}{6} x = 12$
>   \item  $3(x - 1) - x = 7$
>   \item  $4 \biggl( \dfrac{1}{2} x + 1 \biggr) - 3x = 12$
> \end{multicols}
> \end{enumerate}

Is this for a student worksheet?

I've tried various things over the years, including
using {tabular} with separate columns for the item numbering
and the actual math items.

Now I just use something like:

\begin{inparaenum}[(a) ]

This way you can put as many items as fit comfortably across
the whole page. Use \\ to start a new line, as usual.

It doesn't give you automatically aligned columns, but these
are not so important as the widths of items can vary considerably.
Besides, you can add extra space using \quad \<space>  \; and \, to make
numbering line-up better, if you want. (Generally I do.)
You can increase the space between lines by e.g., \\[4pt] .

Also, why do you specifically force  \dfrac  for small fractions?
My approach is to force \tfrac  (e.g., \tfrac14 ) for such things,
even in displayed math. I do this wherever possible with fractions,
as they should be thought of logically as numbers, not calculations
to be performed. This way they do not visually distract from the
(algebraically) more complicated parts of the expression, which
is what you really want your students to understand.

A nice side-effect of this is that you need just  \bigl( ... \bigr) ,
so reducing the need for (ugly) large parentheses with simple
polynomial expressions.

> Thanks.
> ---John.

Hope this helps,


Ross Moore                                       ross at maths.mq.edu.au
Mathematics Department                           office: E7A-419
Macquarie University                             tel: +61 (0)2 9850 8955
Sydney, Australia  2109                          fax: +61 (0)2 9850 8114

More information about the MacOSX-TeX mailing list