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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?)

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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

2 Answers 2

up vote 96 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

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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

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