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When typing < or > in LaTeX and compiling with pdflatex, the less than and greater than symbols appear at upside down exclamation points. I'm not in math mode.

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using it in a regression results table in a paper. – biased_estimator Aug 28 '10 at 2:44
@ShreevatsaR: "This example holds true for all cases where n >= 3". – SabreWolfy Feb 2 '12 at 13:02
up vote 141 down vote accepted

Geoffs tip with \textless and \textgreater will work well for you. However, you could type these symbols < and > directly in your editor and they would be correctly printed if you use the recommended font encoding, Cork resp. T1:


Have a look at the T1 encoding table, search for the symbols < and >. Afterwards, open the OT1 encoding table, which is the default. At the two corresponding places you will find the upside down exclamation resp. quotation mark. That should explain it.

For further reasons, why you should use T1 encoding, have a look at this question: Why should I use \usepackage[T1]{fontenc}?

You should use a font supporting T1. For instance use the very good Latin Modern font, derived from the standard fonts:


Or install the cm-super package which provides the standard Computer Modern fonts with T1 support.

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Further reading: Latin Modern vs cm-super? – doncherry Jan 31 '13 at 6:46
will this screw up any other part of the document? – Hao Sun Jun 13 at 20:52
@HaoSun It's an improvement. If something would change that you don't desire, it can be fixed. If you don't want any change, just don't change. – Stefan Kottwitz Jun 13 at 22:24

Use \textless and \textgreater.

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unless they are part of a math expression, in which case they should be between dollar signs or \( ... \) along with the rest of the math expression. – barbara beeton Aug 26 '10 at 19:51

May be using some other sane font encoding, something like \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} or something. (Well, I don't think any of this legacy font encoding and input encoding is sane any way).

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+1 for your opinion in parentheses! – Lover of Structure Dec 26 '13 at 0:36

What I usually do is just enter mathmode to type them, e.g. This object is $<$ that object.

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That is generally considered poor style. You should just write out "This object is less than that object." Occasionally, you'll see "foo is <0." This looks bad. – TH. Aug 27 '10 at 23:32
That's definitely true. However, if you're using LaTeX to organize your thoughts (as i often do), 'good style' equates to 'will I understand what I wrote if I come back and look at it in a week'! – Avi Steiner Sep 3 '10 at 3:30
@TH.: I agree with you. My experiency tells me too that text and math code should not be mixed up. Good style would be either writing "The variable $foo$ is less than zero." (as you mentioned) or "The variable $foo$ satisfies the relation/condition $foo<0$.", which would probably suit your application. Good style means also to define variables at the first use. – strpeter Dec 7 '13 at 8:07
@strpeter While mentioning style, it is worth noting that variable $foo$ is not good style either: it refers to the product of $f$, $o$, and $o$. You mean variable $\mathit{foo}$. – akim Dec 8 '14 at 9:19
OK, I was not typing it correct in the sense of the variable as I focused on the operator. You're right - use your preferred version $\mathit{foo}<0$, $\mathrm{foo}<0$, $\mathbf{foo}<0$, or whatever variable. ;) – strpeter Dec 8 '14 at 10:40

protected by percusse Mar 28 at 17:08

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