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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?

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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
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2 Answers

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:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\begin{document}
$<x>$\\
$\langle x \rangle$   \\
$< \, x \,>$\\
$< \negmedspace x \negmedspace >$\\
$< \negthickspace x \negthickspace >$\\
\end{document} 

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

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1  
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
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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 >.

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9  
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 at 20:53
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