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

I'm creating a rather large document/thesis/book that will contain a lot of math. I'm having problems getting a consistent set of math fonts or notation for different types of variables. Specifically, I have scalar variables, vectors, matrices, and tensors that I would like to all look different.

I had sort of settled on the following:

  1. scalar - 'regular' italicized
  2. vector - same as scalar, but with an arrow (latex \vec)
  3. matrix - bold (preferably upright as well)
  4. tensor - preferably blackboard font, but also maybe the same as a matrix

That's all well and good, except my field uses many Greek letters, both lower and uppercase. In addition, after writing a long section with latex's \vec, it looks ugly and crowded, particularly when combined with superscripts. Most documents I've seen fudge many of them together.

So any mathematicians/latexticians have opinions on getting a consistent notation for a large document? As a side note, I'm currently using kpfonts, and would like to keep that (or Palatino) for the main text.

share|improve this question
I would avoid decorated letters as much as possible, don't get complicated unless you absolutely need to. I personally would go with capitals for matrices, lower case bold for vectors, lower case non-bold (italic whatever) for scalars and eucal/mathbb for tensors. Or some other visually simple scheme as suggested below. – Scott H. Jun 21 '12 at 6:42
@ScottH. I wish I could, but my field already has a large body of work that has mixed convention. g tensor, A tensor, sigma tensor, \mu vector, I vector, r vector, etc. Agree about the decorated letters, though. That was awful except for the most simple equations. – Ben P. Jun 21 '12 at 15:04
up vote 5 down vote accepted

isomath defines \vectorsym, \matrixsym and \tensorsym to typeset vectors, matrices and tensors in an ISO-conformant way. It also loads fixmath to provide correct typesetting for the greek alphabet.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, I didn't know about isomath. I've been trying it and it seems to get some sort of coherent notation. – Ben P. Jun 22 '12 at 16:39

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.