I have made a function which takes any expression and should replace it with one whose variables are identical, but replaced by those with a chosen subscript (inside the "{}" part goes a set of variables which I don't want to be labelled).

At[expr_, i_] := 
    varsD = Variables[expr],{}];
    ReplaceAll[expr, # -> Subscript[#, i] & /@ varsD] ]

However, what I am noticing is that, when I take functions (such as sines or derivatives etc), that the whole function is subscripted rather than just the variable.

enter image description here

I want them both to be $\sin(\theta _l)$ and $\dfrac{\partial F_l}{\partial y}$. I need some way of ensuring that this only happens to the function at the highest depth, but I am not sure how to do this.

EDIT: An answer to this has been provided, but what I would also like to do is the following:

  • If the expression contains an unknown function (e.g. $F(x,y)$) then the function $F$ should receive the labelling as opposed to $x$ and $y$).
  • Specify a set of variables or functions which should remain untouched by the labelling procedure (for example $H(z)$) - I had a previous solution which did this (which was omitted from the script I provided in this post, for simplicity).

Could somebody point me in the right direction?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In "Possible issues" section of "Variables" help page they note that: "Variables looks for variables only inside sums, products, and rational powers". So, you probably need to make substitution like this: at[expr_, l_] := expr /. h_[x_] :> h[Subscript[x, l]], then it works at least with examples given. $\endgroup$
    – Alx
    Dec 20, 2019 at 3:06
  • $\begingroup$ Many thanks for this. However, I would like to adapt this to accomplish two possible things: (a) how to make it so a specific set of variables are precluded from being subscripted, and (b) how to make it so that unknown functions (e.g. B[y,z]) have their heads labelled rather than the variables?) $\endgroup$
    – user68730
    Dec 20, 2019 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @omegaSQU4RED it would be useful to those who seek to provide an answer for you to update your question with these added requirements. $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2019 at 5:51

1 Answer 1


I can't see any way to do it without telling the function the name of the variable that is to given the subscript. If you are willing to accept that as an additional requirement, it can be done like this:

at[expr_, i_, var_Symbol] :=
  Module[{m, idxs},
    m = expr;
    idxs = Position[m, var];
    Do[Part[m, Sequence @@ j] = Subscript[Part[m, Sequence @@ j], i], {j, idxs}];


at[D[f[x, y], x] D[f[x, y], y] + 2 D[f[x, y], x, y], 1, f]// TraditionalForm


at[Cos[θ] + I Sin[θ], 1, θ] // TraditionalForm



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