I want to highlight a piece of equation, click a button and have that part taken into parentheses.

  • $\begingroup$ Take a look at NotebookApply. $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 10:45

3 Answers 3


I have this palette open all the time:


              FrontEndToken[SelectedNotebook[], "SelectionParenthesize"]]],
         FrontEndToken[SelectedNotebook[], "SelectionBracket"]]],
         FrontEndToken[SelectedNotebook[], "SelectionBrace"]]],
         With[{e = NotebookRead@SelectedNotebook[]},
              NotebookWrite[SelectedNotebook[], RowBox@{"\"", e, "\""}];
              SelectionMove[SelectedNotebook[], All, Expression, 2]]]

By the way, in some text editors (e.g. Sublime Text, Texmate), when you make a selection and press a (, [, { or ", you automatically get the selection wrapped with the corresponding character. I really wish that the Mathematica editor worked like that.

UPDATE: I have simplified the code and modified the last button (wrap selection in quotes) so that the modified string is selected. This is how the other three buttons behave. I borrowed some of @halirutan answer's code in order to make this work (thanks!).

  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible to merge this with writing assistant, or make it come up every time I open mathematica? $\endgroup$ Commented May 29, 2015 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ After you run the code, select "Install Palette" from the "Palette" menu. Then, it will be very easy to open it when you need it. In regards to merging palettes: I don't know. I guess that you need to look for the writing assistant source code and modify it, but I think it is not worth the trouble. What would be great is to set a keyboard shortcut to these actions. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ +1 nice tool. How would you increase the size of these buttons? $\endgroup$
    – emnha
    Commented May 18, 2022 at 12:35

Please start playing with NotebookRead and NotebookWrite and look what expressions are returned when you select different things. You could use a simple button like this

Button["Print Selection", Print[NotebookRead[SelectedNotebook[]]]]

Now, you want to change you selection by putting parenthesis around it. A first very simple version looks like this:

 With[{e = NotebookRead[SelectedNotebook[]]},
  NotebookWrite[SelectedNotebook[], RowBox[{"(", e, ")"}]]

Cross posted in community: Put parentheses around selection

Limitations and problems with .tr files made me create live templates: Live code templates

Once installed you can set package's stylesheet or add templates menu to all notebooks by:

SetOptions[$FrontEnd, NotebookEventActions -> {
     {"MenuCommand", "InsertNewGraphic"} :> Block[{$ContextPath}
        , Needs["DevTools`"]    ; DevTools`OpenNotebookMenu["CodeTemplates"]
      , ParentList

and you are ready to go, with a caret just after the symbol (or when you select something) you can hit Ctrl+1 followed by ( and wrapped it is.

enter image description here


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