To have one or more portions of a mathfield editable, while the rest is read-only, use a readonly mathfield, and the \placeholder[]{} command.

<math-field readonly>

This feature is called “fill-in-the-blank”.

It’s often used to prompt a student to provide an answer to a quiz by filling in portions of a formula.

The first argument of the \placeholder command, i.e. [answer] in the example above, is the identifier of the placeholder. It can be any string that does not contain spaces or special characters. The identifier indicates that the placeholder is editable, and it is used to access the value of the placeholder.

The main argument of the \placeholder command, i.e. the one in {} is the value of the prompt. You can leave it blank, but the brackets must be present.


In the example below a student is asked to fill in the blanks to provide a reduced fraction.

We check the answer by listening to the input event of the mathfield, and comparing the value of the prompts to the expected answer. We also change the state of the prompts to indicate whether the answer was correct or not.

const mf = document.getElementById('mf');
mf.addEventListener('input', (ev) => {
  const num = mf.getPromptValue('numerator');
  const den = mf.getPromptValue('denominator');
  mf.setPromptState('numerator', num === "5" ? 'correct' : 'incorrect');
  mf.setPromptState('denominator', den === "4" ? 'correct' : 'incorrect');
  if (num === "5" && den === "4")'Correct!');
<math-field readonly id=mf  style="font-size:2em">
  \frac{15}{12}= \frac

The value returned by mf.getPromptValue() is a LaTeX string. If you need to use the value in a computation, you will need to convert it to a number. For example, parseInt(mf.getPromptValue('numerator')).

You can also use the Compute Engine to evaluate the value of the prompt. This allows you to check the answer using more sophisticated symbolic computation.

const mf = document.getElementById("mf");
let typingTimer;  // Timer identifier
// On input, start the countdown
mf.addEventListener("input", () => {
  typingTimer = setTimeout(checkAnswer, 2000);
function checkAnswer () {
  const ce = MathfieldElement.computeEngine;
  const answer = ce.parse(mf.getPromptValue("answer"));
  const correctAnswer = ce.parse("x^2 - 1");
  const ok = answer.isSame(correctAnswer);
// ? "Correct!" : "Incorrect!");
<math-field readonly id=mf  style="font-size:2em">
  (x+1)(x-1) = \placeholder[answer]{?}

In the example above, we use the Compute Engine to parse the answer provided by the student, and compare it to the correct answer. The Compute Engine can also be used to evaluate the answer, or to simplify it.

We use a timer to wait for the student to finish typing before checking the answer. This avoids checking the answer after every keystroke, which would be distracting for the student.

Because we are using isSame() to compare the answer, the student can provide the answer in a different form, for example x^2 - 1 or -1 + x^2.

If you want a more strict comparison, you can use the non-canonical form of the answer, i.e.

const answer = ce.parse(
    mf.getPromptValue("answer"), { canonical: false });
const correctAnswer = ce.parse("x^2 - 1", { canonical: false });

Accessing all the Prompts

To get a list of all the prompts in a mathfield, use mf.getPrompts(). It returns an array of identifiers, or an empty array if there are no prompts.

Accessing the Value of a Prompt

To access the value of a prompt, use mf.getPromptValue() and mf.setPromptValue(). The first argument of these functions is the id of the prompt. The optional second argument of getPromptValue() is the same as mf.getValue() and can be used to customize the output format.

Accessing the State of a Prompt

A prompt can be locked or unlocked. When locked, it is not editable.

A prompt can also be either in a correct or incorrect state.The prompt renders accordingly, which can be used to indicate that a provided answer was correct or incorrect.

To change the lock state of a prompt, use mf.setPromptState() and mf.getPromptState() to read the current state of the prompt.