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2.10.1 Cells as Mathematica Expressions

Like other objects in Mathematica, the cells in a notebook, and in fact the whole notebook itself, are all ultimately represented as Mathematica expressions. With the standard notebook front end, you can use the command Show Expression to see the text of the Mathematica expression that corresponds to any particular cell.


Handling Cell expressions in the notebook front end.

  • Here is a cell displayed in its usual way in the front end.
  • Here is the underlying Mathematica expression that corresponds to the cell.

  • Mathematica expressions corresponding to cells in notebooks.

    Within a given notebook, there is always a collection of styles that can be used to determine the appearance and behavior of cells. Typically the styles are named so as to reflect what role cells which have them will play in the notebook.


    Some typical cell styles defined in notebooks.

  • Here are several cells in different styles.
  • Here are the expressions that correspond to these cells.
  • A particular style such as "Section" or "Text" defines various settings for the options associated with a cell. You can override these settings by explicitly setting options within a specific cell.

  • Here is the expression for a cell in which options are set to use a gray background and to put a frame around the cell.
  • This is how the cell looks in a notebook.

  • A few of the large number of possible options for cells.

    The standard notebook front end for Mathematica provides several ways to change the options of a cell. In simple cases, such as changing the size or color of text, there will often be a specific menu item for the purpose. But in general you can use the option inspector that is built into the front end. This is typically accessed using the Option Inspector menu item in the Format menu.


    Ways to manipulate cells in the front end.

    Sometimes you will want just to change the options associated with a specific cell. But often you may want to change the options associated with all cells in your notebook that have a particular style. You can do this by using the Edit Style Sheet command in the front end to open up the style sheet associated with your notebook, and then modifying the options for the cells in this style sheet that represent the style you want to change.


    Inserting cells into a notebook.

  • This inserts a section cell into the current notebook.
  • In[1]:= CellPrint[Cell["The heading", "Section"]]

  • This inserts a text cell with a frame around it.
  • In[2]:= CellPrint[Cell["Some text", "Text", CellFrame->True]]

    CellPrint allows you to take a raw Cell expression and insert it into your current notebook. Sometimes, however, you may find it more convenient to give an ordinary Mathematica expression, and then have Mathematica convert it into a Cell of a certain style, and insert this cell into a notebook. You can do this using the function StylePrint.


    Writing expressions into cells with specified styles.

  • This inserts a cell in section style into your current notebook.
  • In[3]:= StylePrint["The heading", "Section"]

  • This creates several cells in output style.
  • In[4]:= Do[StylePrint[Factor[x^i - 1], "Output"], {i, 7, 10}]

  • You can use any cell options in StylePrint.
  • In[5]:= StylePrint["Another heading", "Section", CellFrame->True,
    FontSize->28]

    CellPrint and StylePrint provide simple ways to modify open notebooks in the front end from within the kernel. Later in this section we will discuss more sophisticated and flexible ways to do this.