TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

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

In math, one often needs to put a letter inside the symbols <>, e.g. to denote a cyclic group <x> generated by some element x. However, plain text displays the symbols < and > as an upside down exclamation point and an upside down question mark, respectively, while math type displays a large space like so:

< x > 

Is there some way to reduce this spacing?

share|improve this question
see also tex.stackexchange.com/questions/2003/… and tex.stackexchange.com/questions/13985/… (can any of those be considered duplicates)? – Caramdir Aug 16 '11 at 20:03
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If it's important to keep the same shape of > then make sure you're using the amsmath package because it gives you three types of negative space: thin, medium and thick. Per your question, negative spacing is the method to reduce spacing. This code shows your options:

$\langle x \rangle$   \\
$< \, x \,>$\\
$< \negmedspace x \negmedspace >$\\
$< \negthickspace x \negthickspace >$\\

Personally, I like Jeff's solution or the solution with negmedspace.

share|improve this answer
It's usually not a good idea to mess with the spacing directly; frabjous's comment (under Jeff's answer) provides the best solution for this problem. – Rufflewind Oct 17 '13 at 19:03

I swear I searched for a long time before posting my question....but right after asking, I found the solution.

For anyone else who might want to know, the solution is to use \langle in place of < and \rangle in place of >.

share|improve this answer
You can also do $\left< x \right>$, or if you really want < and > then $\mathopen{<} x \mathclose{>}$. – frabjous Aug 16 '11 at 20:01
I would use $\langle x\rangle$ instead of $\left<x\right>$, because \left and \right sometimes create delimiters of the wrong size and may also have other unwanted effects. I think $\bigl\langle x\bigr\rangle$ and $\bigl<x\bigr>$ come out exactly the same, though. – MSC Apr 12 '14 at 20:53

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.