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The near-ubiquitous undergraduate reference on electrodynamics, "Introduction to Electrodynamics" by David Griffiths make extensive use of a script-r symbol, defined to be \vector{\scriptr} \equiv \vector{r} - \vector{r}^{\prime} and looks like:

Script r

Although the question of how to produce such a symbol in LaTeX is quite a common one I am yet to find a satisfactory solution. The closest I've found is from the physymb package and uses the Calligra fonts:

enter image description here

Sadly, there is not a bold variant of this character and it is far more cursive than I would like. I am hence wondering if there are any better facsimiles.

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For what it's worth: I'm the maintainer of physymb and I spent quite some time searching to find an accurate rendering of that symbol - obviously, with no exact success. So I share your disappointment that the Calligra fonts don't exactly reproduce the character. But I'll stay tuned to this question in case someone comes up with a replacement (that is LPPL-compatible). –  David Z Jul 7 '13 at 5:28

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you are willing to use lualatex and unicode-math. At least you can get a free script font, XITS or Asana. They both have a script font and its bold version.

rsfs is a free script font. But there seems to be no bold version.

Any way the glyphs in XITS and Asana are not exactly what you want. But if you only want script fonts with bold version instead of exactly reproduce the look in that book, they should work.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\usepackage{unicode-math}
\setmathfont{XITS Math}

\def\az{abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz}
\def\AZ{ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ}

\begin{document}
  \begin{gather*}
    \mathscr{\az} \\
    \mathscr{\AZ} \\
    \mathbfscr{\az} \\
    \mathbfscr{\AZ}
  \end{gather*}
\end{document}

XITS scripts

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I don't know if anyone is still looking for this, but I believe I have found the simplest solution. To produce the bold, script r, use the physymb package and the command (in math mode) \pmb{\scriptr}. It's italicized bold, but bold nonetheless.

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In MathTime \mathbcal{\altr} gives:

Bold Script alternative r (MathTime)

But the font isn't free...

And, my opinion is, that alternative r on print, even in handwriting, doesn't read well.

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Your opinion makes a good point - this is arguably not the best way to typeset an r, if you just want to have an r. But Griffith's book is so widely used that many physicists and physics students will recognize it as having a particular meaning (even if they may not immediately be able to parse it as an r), which is why it's a useful symbol to have available. –  David Z Jul 7 '13 at 5:32

There is a script r in Free Serif

script r

but unfortunately it's not available as bold face. You can compile with XeLaTeX the following scriptr.tex file (Free Serif is included in TeX Live)

\documentclass{standalone}
\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont{Free Serif}
\begin{document}
\char"1D4C7
\end{document}

so getting a scriptr.pdf file, and use

\newcommand{\scriptr}{\includegraphics{scriptr}}

in your document. Maybe some shift is needed.

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You may want to consult Dr. David J. Griffiths's web page at http://academic.reed.edu/physics/faculty/griffiths.html.

At the bottom of the page he provides a link "To create script-r in TeX:"

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