is an option for output streams, graphics, and functions such as Text that specifies the default format type to use when outputting expressions.


  • Typical settings for FormatType include:
  • Automaticinherit from surrounding constructs
    InputFormone-dimensional form suitable for direct keyboard input
    OutputFormcharacterbased two-dimensional form
    StandardFormstandard two-dimensional form
    TraditionalFormform approximating traditional mathematical notation
  • SetOptions[stream,FormatType->type] resets the format type for an open stream.
  • For graphics functions, boxbased format types such as StandardForm and TraditionalForm can be used only when a notebook front end is present.


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Basic Examples  (3)

By default, expressions are displayed using TraditionalForm in graphics:

Display expressions using StandardForm:

Labels are also affected by the FormatType setting:

Possible Issues  (1)

When different format types are combined the result is likely to be unpredictable:

This is equivalent to:

Wolfram Research (1988), FormatType, Wolfram Language function, (updated 1996).


Wolfram Research (1988), FormatType, Wolfram Language function, (updated 1996).


@misc{reference.wolfram_2020_formattype, author="Wolfram Research", title="{FormatType}", year="1996", howpublished="\url{}", note=[Accessed: 21-January-2021 ]}


@online{reference.wolfram_2020_formattype, organization={Wolfram Research}, title={FormatType}, year={1996}, url={}, note=[Accessed: 21-January-2021 ]}


Wolfram Language. 1988. "FormatType." Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center. Wolfram Research. Last Modified 1996.


Wolfram Language. (1988). FormatType. Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center. Retrieved from