I know that the figures and tables are numbered consecutively throughout the while paper. What about the equation numbering? Suppose I have four equations in the paper, but I want to number only two of them. Is it appropriate to do it?

Any advise is very welcome.

  • Are you using a particular style guide (APA, MLA, etc.)? Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 15:44
  • I'm using the IEEE style guide. I also would like to know what people do in general.
    – zkan
    Commented Jan 19, 2013 at 0:10

5 Answers 5


I believe the standard is to only number equations that are referenced in the text. On the other hand there is no real harm in numbering all of the equations especially when you have so few of them.


The general rule that I often use is to number all equations that will be referred to in the text. It is then optional to number equations to which there is no reference.


Consider looking at a similar question here: https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/29267/which-equations-should-be-numbered

In general, for technical subjects, number all equations even though you may not have referenced them in the text. It is almost always recommended that you do so, so that other people can refer to it easily and also so that any queries that are asked regarding it, can be directly done. For example, if you have two unnumbered equations and your reader has a question regarding one of them, there is no way for them to do so (they would have to be ambiguous...that equation that appears after this paragraph, which is something most of us would not like to do (and not preferable in an academic setting). So, in general, go ahead and number all of them.


What purpose is served by an equation to which you do not refer in the text? Is it an illustration?

If the equation does not need a number, does the reader need to see it? I would number them all.

  • In technical papers, there are lots of times you use equations that you do not refer to explicitly in the text. They're not like figures. Commented May 29, 2013 at 17:39

When you write a paper, you normally want to show the derivation of your mathematical results. Every step should be numbered. Then it is up to you to mention them or not in the text. LaTeX (TeX Stack Exhange) does the numbering automatically for you!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.