The <semantics> element associates annotations with a MathML expression, for example its text source as a lightweight markup language or mathematical meaning expressed in a special XML dialect. Typically, its structure is:

  • a first child which is a MathML expression to be annotated.
  • subsequent <annotation> or <annotation-xml> elements, the latter being reserved for XML formats such as OpenMath.

By default, only the first child of the <semantics> element is rendered while the others have their display set to none.

Note: Legacy MathML specifications allowed renderers to decide the default rendering according to available annotations. The following rules for determining the visible child have been implemented in some browsers. See MathML Full for the distinction between Presentation and Content MathML.

  • If no other rules apply: By default only the first child is rendered, which is supposed to be Presentation MathML.
  • If the first child is a Presentation MathML element other than <annotation> or <annotation-xml>, render the first child.
  • If no Presentation MathML is found, render the first <annotation> or <annotation-xml> child element of <semantics> without a src attribute. For <annotation-xml> elements the encoding attribute must be equal to one of following values:
    • "application/mathml-presentation+xml"
    • "MathML-Presentation"
    • "SVG1.1"
    • "text/html"
    • "image/svg+xml"
    • "application/xml".

Note that "application/mathml+xml" is not mentioned here as it does not distinguish between Content or Presentation MathML.


<semantics>, <annotation> and <annotation-xml> elements accept the global MathML attributes. Additionally, the following attributes can be set on the <annotation> and <annotation-xml> elements:


The encoding of the semantic information in the annotation (e.g. "MathML-Content", "MathML-Presentation", "application/openmath+xml", "image/png")

src Deprecated

The location of an external source for semantic information.


    <!-- The first child is the MathML expression rendered by default. -->

    <!-- Annotate with "Content MathML", a dedicated XML dialect to
         express the meaning of mathematical formulas. -->
    <annotation-xml encoding="MathML-Content">
        <plus />
          <power />
          <cn type="integer">2</cn>

    <!-- Annotate with a PNG image of the formula. -->
    <annotation encoding="image/png" src="some/path/formula.png" />

    <!-- Annotate with LaTeX, a lightweight markup language to write
         mathematical formulas. -->
    <annotation encoding="application/x-tex"> x^{2} + y </annotation>


MathML Core
# semantics-and-presentation

Browser compatibility

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