I want to make a function that takes a function as a parameter and prints an integral with the function inside. I've tried this:

L[f_, a_, b_] := HoldForm[Integrate[f[x], {x, a, b}]]

L[E^-Sqrt[#] &, 0, 1]


But it gives me this:

$$\int_0^1 \left(e^{-\sqrt{\text{#1}}}\text{&}\right)[x] \, dx$$

I want the integrand to look normal, that's all, so I want the variable x to be substituted inside it, but not evaluated any further. Is this possible?

• It seems to work if you just remove HoldForm, since it's a delayed set, f is equal to your input function when it evaluates, and since x is only mentioned inside Integrate, there should be no problems. May 14, 2012 at 14:13
• @jVincent The OP needs the integral to stay unevaluated, and merely display as an integral. May 14, 2012 at 14:14
• My bad, I read through it to fast. May 14, 2012 at 14:15

This works nicely:

L[f_, a_, b_] := HoldForm[Integrate[#, {\[FormalX], a, b}]] &[f[\[FormalX]]]


Note that I used \[FormalX] to prevent conflicts with the usual x, which may have had a previous definition. Try L[E^-Sqrt[#] &, 0, 1] with this definition: This is what you need:

Block[{Integrate, HoldForm}, L[E^-Sqrt[#] &, 0, 1]]

• Undergoing succintness training? +1
– Rojo
May 15, 2012 at 0:21
• @Rojo I wish :) May 15, 2012 at 8:33
fun = E^-Sqrt[#] &;


I'd suggest something simpler, like

L=Composition[HoldForm, Integrate];


So you would do

L[fun[x], {x, 0, 1}];


and you explicitly choose the integrand. Note that this version won't work if your integrand has a value. For that, look at the other good answers.

Furthermore, if you want the output to be evaluatable, so that if you copy-paste it or reevaluate the output cell you get the actual integral, just replace HoldForm with Defer

L=Composition[Defer, Integrate];


If you only want to change the displayed form of the expression, you can create a custom MakeBoxes call to format it as you want:

MakeBoxes[L[f_, a_, b_], StandardForm] ^:=
RowBox[{SubsuperscriptBox["\[Integral]", ToBoxes[a], ToBoxes[b]],
ToBoxes[f["x"]], RowBox[{"\[DifferentialD]", "x"}]}]


In this way, L[f,a,b] will remain an object in computations, but whenever the front-end displays it, it will look like you desired, just like Power[x,2] will display like a raised power, but remain the expression if you manipulate it.

• I was looking at that, but the documentation about boxes is confusing and I don't understand it. May 14, 2012 at 14:23
• Boxes are the structures used to describe the displayed form of the content in the front-end. I agree that it's difficult to get a grasp of how it all works from the documentation. A nice way to get a feel for what boxes are is to select a cell and use Cell>Show Cell expression (or Shift-ctrl-E), this shows you the box form that is interpreted as the shown expression. May 14, 2012 at 14:42

You could use the following:

Clear[L]
L[f_, a_, b_] := Block[{x}, With[{expr = f[x]}, HoldForm[Integrate[expr, {x, a, b}]]]]


Using Block makes sure that this will work even if x has a value. With is commonly used for expression injection.

Also it is possible to use ReplacePart and Defer:

L[f_, a_, b_] := ReplacePart[Defer[Integrate[1, {x, a, b}]], {1, 1} -> f[x]]


Here is one more way. Try:

 L[f_, a_, b_] := 