TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I feel like the standard $\emptyset$ is ugly. By hand, my empty set symbol is a lot rounder, then this "slashed-zero"-type symbol.

Two questions:

  • Do people really use it (I mean people who have any sort of sense of aesthetics)?
  • What alternatives do you suggest?

I seem to recall something closer to what I'm looking for - a slash round-o - but the diameter of the circle seemed too small, I think. (And am I asking this in the right place?)

share|improve this question
I use \emptyset and don't like \varnothing, which is more a symbol for plumbers than mathematicians. :) Michael's advice is pretious: \renewcommand{\emptyset}{...} or \let\emptyset\???, so that you can easily change your mind. – egreg Jul 11 '11 at 20:04
Regarding first question. Go to LaTeX Search and search for \emptyset. You'll get ~1000 docs using it (it is possibly a search limit), so I dare to say it is used. – przemoc Jul 11 '11 at 20:08
egreg: tomayto, tomawto ;-) – Jérémie Jul 11 '11 at 22:38
przemoc: you don't account for poor taste (said jokingly - mostly!). – Jérémie Jul 11 '11 at 22:39
@Jérémie: If you want to reach particular commentator, i.e. be sure it will be notified about it, you have to precede username (at least using 3 first unambiguous characters) with @. Read details regarding it. BTW here I didn't have to address you directly, as you're the OP, so you would be notified anyway. – przemoc Jul 12 '11 at 8:14
up vote 102 down vote accepted

Try \varnothing from the amssymb package. It is perfectly round, and the comprehensive LaTeX symbol list states that it is perefered by many to \emptyset.




$\oldemptyset$ $\emptyset$

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Thank you very much, it's exactly the answer that I was looking for. – Jérémie Jul 11 '11 at 22:39
Can we all agree that \phi and \Phi should never be used for this? Argh! ;-) – Colin Fraizer Jul 30 '11 at 8:54
@ColinFraizer I can't believe it. Do people seriously use Phi for empty set? Shocking! – Alfredo Hernández May 16 '13 at 15:22
Just wait until someone sees \phi and doesn't understand it's meant to be "empty set", and uses \varphi in his own documents. My engineering textbook was a nightmare. – Lazar Ljubenović Dec 1 '13 at 11:22
@AlfredoHernández Unfortunately, yes. In the wild… (video should start at 4:03; offending statement at 4:17). – WChargin Nov 11 '14 at 18:44

The \diameter is an alternative for emptyset in lines, it is a bit tiny.


emptyset vs diameter

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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