When using TagBox with SyntaxForm, I noticed sometimes it is not well parsed by the FrontEnd. Here is a minimal example. First input

TagBox["f", "test", SyntaxForm -> "^"] // DisplayForm

Then copy the output f to new input, and do some prefix or postfix operations. There is an error message.

A screenshot is attached.

enter image description here

To debug further, one note that where there is a problem, in the saved file the cell is broken into more than one RowBox, for example:

  RowBox[{"//", "ToBoxes", " ", 
   RowBox[{"(*", " ", 
    "this", " ", "f", " ", "is", " ", "copied", " ", "and", " ", "pasted", 
     " ", "from", " ", "the", " ", "above", " ", "line"}], " ", 
    "*)"}]}]}]], "Input",
 CellChangeTimes->{{3.618418507443947*^9, 3.618418516513115*^9}},

I am using Mathematica 10.0 on Linux x64. I have also tried SyntaxForm->"a^b", or other operators. None of them work well.

Am I doing anything wrong or is it a bug?


As @WReach commented, I should have provided more details about my goal, otherwise why not go without SyntaxForm? And here is what I wanted (still a simplified version of the realistic case): typeset derivative in a good-looking way.

The simplest implementation is

MakeBoxes[d[f_], StandardForm] := 
 TagBox[GridBox[{{"\[PartialD]", ToBoxes[f]}}], "d"]

However, if I evaluate


∂ f²

This is not what I want (it evaluates correctly but does not look correct). Instead I want (∂ f)². Note that here I could use RowBox instead of GridBox and then there is no such problem. But I do need GridBox in the realistic case because it is more feature-rich (I could use RowBox[{GridBox[...], ""}] to replace GridBox[...] as a workaround. But I hope there is a cleaner and less hacky way). Also the Notation package is not powerful enough for my actual need so I want to do it myself.

I think the logical move to solve this problem is to use SyntaxForm. Indeed, if I define

MakeBoxes[d2[f_], StandardForm] := 
 TagBox[GridBox[{{"\[PartialD]", ToBoxes[f]}}], "d2", SyntaxForm -> "^"]

MakeExpression[TagBox[GridBox[{{"\[PartialD]", f_}}], "d2", ___], 
  StandardForm] := With[{g = ToExpression@f}, HoldComplete@d2@g]

I get the desired (∂ f)² appearance for d2[f]^2. However, now the problem that I have described appears. If I evaluate d2[f], and copy the output to new input and use, say, post-fix form of operators, it ends up with an error.

  • $\begingroup$ Still there in v10.0.2 $\endgroup$
    – Yi Wang
    Dec 11 '14 at 17:09

Using a TemplateBox instead of a TagBox should fix your problem.

MakeBoxes[d[f_], StandardForm] ^:= TemplateBox[



enter image description here

And copying:

enter image description here



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