MINOS Web Guide - Special Characters

It's all Greek, and Math too

Yes, you can do the following, and more - - -

There are 3 types of neutrinos, νμ, νe, and ντ

Δm2=0.003 eV2


The entire suite of greek characters and math symbols is available in XHTML. The syntax for utilizing them will appear familiar to anyone who has used LaTex. One does NOT use the old font tag, with a directive to display a character in Symbol font. Nor does one insert gif images of greek characters into the text.

All special characters are created by using character entity references, which can be a numeric reference or a named reference. It is the named reference method which is similar to LaTex. To make a small greek theta, one uses the name "theta"; to make an upper case theta, one uses the name "Theta". The name is enclosed with flagging characters which tell the browser's parser to "escape" the usual interpretation sequence - so sometimes one sees references in Web literature to "escaping special characters", and this is all they are talking about. The enclosing flagging characters in XHTML are a leading ampersand and a tailing semi-colon. So, to make Δ one types Δ (and if you view the source for that sentence, you'll see that one has to escape the ampersand to make it render on the page, because it is a special character in XHTML).

Any character can be made into a super-script or sub-script, by use of the <sup> and <sub> tags, which have existed since HTML-1. Remember to use their matching closing tags.

The sans-serif font types used on our screen pages display the greek characters adequately, but the super and sub scripted characters are not the best. The serif fonts used for print pages do a better job with the appearance of super and sup scripted characters. So, there is a Style class called "math" which simply toggles to the serif fonts. One uses the class with the <span> tag, just like when colorizing text - bracket your entire greek symbol sequence or math equation with <span class="math"> to get a more Times-Symbol font style appearance. But you do not need to use the math class to make greek characters - try it both ways and pick whichever you like.


Examine the XHTML source for the lines at the top of this page to see how to code equations and greek symbols. You'll get the idea.

Character Reference Lists

The names to use for all the greek characters and many math characters are listed at the Web Standards site

Web Standards Project - Reference Section on Character Entities.

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