This is a somewhat silly requirement, but would help a lot in my workflow. Whenever I output an algebraic expression which contains a number, mathematica always orders the number first whenever possible. For example, if I input


Mathematica will output


This repeats itself in other situations which I would prefer not to, as for example when writing to subscripts. Example:

Subscript[x, n] + 1

Outputs to

1+ Subscript[x, n]

Is there a way to prevent this or guide mathematica as to the wanted output? It happens often also in algebraic manipulations that mathematica alters the order of commutative operations.



3 Answers 3


See this page Wolfram Support: default format.

Set Output option under New Cell Defaults, CommonDefaultFormatTypes "Output" to TraditionalForm. If you prefer it to stay that way?


TraditionalForm is useful, but let's just say there are a lot of traditions. (If you read books on Elasticity, the notation and the sign conventions are varied by each author. True for many technical fields.)

Mathematica made a very basic design decision at its inception regarding canonical order of symbols in an expression. See ref/Orderless in the documentation. By having a fixed internal order, Mathematica can have power and simplicity in other ways, especially in the pattern matcher. But if I type in y + x, as you note, it returns x + y. Because of this I've never found a way to duplicate the appearance of some equations from books or papers exactly.

My answer is what you want is not always possible in Mathematica.

ClearAttributes[Plus, Orderless]
b + a // StandardForm
a + b // StandardForm

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