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`\left`

& `\right`

Synopsis:

\leftdelimiter1... \rightdelimiter2

Make matching parentheses, braces, or other delimiters. LaTeX makes the delimiters tall enough to just cover the size of the formula that they enclose.

This makes a unit vector surrounded by parentheses tall enough to cover the entries.

\begin{equation} \left(\begin{array}{c} 1 \\ 0 \\ \end{array}\right) \end{equation}

See Delimiters for a list of the common delimiters.

Every `\left`

must have a matching `\right`

. In the above
example, leaving out the `\left(`

gets the error message
‘`Extra \right`’. Leaving out the `\right)`

gets ‘`You
can't use `\eqno' in math mode`’.

However, `delimiter1` and `delimiter2` need not match. A common
case is that you want an unmatched brace, as below. Use a period,
‘`.`’, as a null delimiter.

\begin{equation} f(n)=\left\{\begin{array}{ll} 1 &\mbox{--if \(n=0\)} \\ f(n-1)+3n^2 &\mbox{--else} \end{array}\right. \end{equation}

Note that to get a curly brace as a delimiter you must prefix it with a
backslash, `\{`

. (The packages `amsmath` and
`mathtools` allow you to get the above construct through in a
`cases`

environment.)

The `\left ... \right`

pair make a group. One consequence is that
the formula enclosed in the `\left ... \right`

pair cannot have
line breaks in the output. This includes both manual line breaks and
LaTeX-generated automatic ones. In this example, LaTeX breaks the
equation to make the formula fit the margins.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet \( (a+b+c+d+e+f+g+h+i+j+k+l+m+n+o+p+q+r+s+t+u+v+w+x+y+z) \)

But with `\left`

and `\right`

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet \( \left(a+b+c+d+e+f+g+h+i+j+k+l+m+n+o+p+q+r+s+t+u+v+w+x+y+z\right) \)

LaTeX won’t break the line, causing the formula to extend into the margin.

Because `\left ... \right`

make a group, all the usual grouping
rules hold. Here, the value of `\testlength`

set inside the
equation will be forgotten, and the output is ‘`1.2pt`’.

\newlength{\testlength} \setlength{\testlength}{1.2pt} \begin{equation} \left( a+b=c \setlength{\testlength}{3.4pt} \right) \the\testlength \end{equation}

The `\left ... \right`

pair affect the horizontal spacing of the
enclosed formula, in two ways. The first is that in ```
\( \sin(x) =
\sin\left(x\right) \)
```

the one after the equals sign has more space
around the `x`

. That’s because `\left( ... \right)`

inserts
an inner node while `( ... )`

inserts an opening node. The second
way that the pair affect the horizontal spacing is that because they
form a group, the enclosed subformula will be typeset at its natural
width, with no stretching or shrinking to make the line fit better.

TeX scales the delimiters according to the height and depth of the contained formula. Here LaTeX grows the brackets to extend the full height of the integral.

\begin{equation} \left[ \int_{x=r_0}^{\infty} -G\frac{Mm}{r^2}\, dr \right] \end{equation}

Manual sizing is often better. For instance, although below the rule has no depth, TeX will create delimiters that extend far below the rule.

\begin{equation} \left( \rule{1pt}{1cm} \right) \end{equation}

TeX can choose delimiters that are too small, as in ```
\( \left|
|x|+|y| \right| \)
```

. It can also choose delimiters that are too large,
as here.

\begin{equation} \left( \sum_{0\leq i<n} i^k \right) \end{equation}

A third awkward case is when a long displayed formula is on more than
one line and you must match the sizes of the opening and closing
delimiter; you can’t use `\left`

on the first line and
`\right`

on the last because they must be paired.

To size the delimiters manually, see \bigl & \bigr etc.