This is documentation for Mathematica 3, which was
based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
View current documentation (Version 11.2)
 Documentation / Mathematica / Getting Started / System Information / NeXT / Starting Out  /

Notebooks and Cells

Mathematica notebooks consist of sequences of cells. The various kinds of cells are listed in the Style submenu of the Format menu.


To create a new cell:

1. Move the pointer until it becomes horizontal.

2. Click and a cell insertion bar will appear; then start typing. By default, new cells are Mathematica input cells.

To create a new cell containing any text:

1. Click in the notebook to get a cell insertion bar.

2. Choose Text from the Style submenu of the Format menu, or use the keyboard shortcut -7.

3. Start typing. The text goes into a new cell which has a format appropriate for ordinary text.

To change the style of a cell:

1. Click on the cell bracket. The bracket is highlighted.

2. Select a style from the Style submenu, such as Section .

T I P S

  • Go to the Format menu to get a toolbar at the top of a notebook.
  • Click the scroll region of the scrollbar to jump scroll through the notebook.


  • To close a group of cells:

    Double-click the outermost cell bracket.
    When a group is closed, only the first cell in the group is displayed, and the group bracket is shown with a triangular flag at the bottom.

    To open a group of cells:

    Double-click a closed group cell bracket.

    To print a notebook:

    Choose Print in the File menu. Notebook styles are automatically optimized for printing.

    To change the overall look of a notebook:

    1. Go to the Screen Environment submenu of the Format menu.

    2. Choose a screen environment.

    T I P S

  • Mathematica comes with a collection of color and black-and-white style sheets that define new styles for all cells. Go to Format Styles Sheet and choose from the list.
  • Use Edit Style Sheet to set up style sheets for Mathematica notebooks.
  • To convert formulas in text cells into two-dimensional form, highlight the formula and use Cell Convert To TraditionalForm.
  • Changes to a notebook that only involve changing the ststus of open or closed cell groups will not be saved automatically, and the front end will not ask you if you wish to save such changes. You must force the notebook to be saved by using File Save .


  • For more information

  • Notebooks: The Mathematica Book, Sections 1.3.4 and 1.3.5.