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Parentheses in Word usually stretch with whatever they're containing. This might be un-noticeable for things like:

enter image description here

For stuff like:

enter image description here

It's definitely nice, especially compared to the fact that naïve LaTeX users often produce uglinesses such as:

enter image description here

There is a problem, however, when using under-/overbraces in math:

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And putting parentheses around the complete term:

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It becomes ugly. For simple things like shown here this can be solved by not letting the parentheses stretch which looks almost right.

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However, for more complex things it's certainly not an option:

enter image description here

Both variants look horrible.

So is there a way of letting the parentheses only stretch around the actual term parts,not including the under-/overbraces? Those are frequently used for annotations of individual pieces, so simply not using them is a bad idea too.

In LaTeX you can get away with guesswork and using explicit sizes for the parentheses instead of relying on \left and \right but I haven't found a comparable option in Word yet. Since the underbrace is (tree-wise) a sibling of the term in parentheses it probably simply has to stretch and there probably can't be an algorithm that determines when to stretch or when not, considering that \above and \below are used for annotations as well but also for other things where perentheses have to stretch. Also, since the parenthesized expression is opaque from the outside one has to put the underbrace inside. From a markup point of view, at least. One can probably draw the rest around but that falls apart when styles change and wouldn't be a good idea either.

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Did you try MathType? ( I was using it during my MS thesis study, but I'm not sure about how it acts on braces and parentheses... – Mehper C. Palavuzlar Apr 30 '10 at 13:20

Coming in on this a bit late, but I think you're stuck because as you point out the underbrace and comment are considered a part of the equation being bracketed. The only other option available is to play with "Match brackets to argument height", which adjusts things very slightly.

Unmatchedalt text


Matchedalt text

You may just have to adjust your definition of ugly.

alt text

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