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I know about \! which creates a thin negative space but is there any native command for large negative spaces (like quad or qquad for positive spaces) ?

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up vote 25 down vote accepted

In text mode: \kern-1em equals "minus quad"

In math mode: \mkern-18mu equals "minus quad"

For "minus qquad" use -2em or -36mu respectively.

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For LaTeX, horizontal spacing is achieved using \hspace{<len>} where <len> is a length (either positive or negative); TeX's equivalent to \hskip. Since \quad [\qquad] is equivalent to a horizontal skip of 1em [2em], use \hspace{-1em} [\hspace{-2em}] to obtain a negative space amount.

\kern inserts a space depending on the mode that TeX is in, and could therefore be either vertical or horizontal.

Text-based spacing can be inserted using any of the \phantom-related commands: \phantom{<stuff>}, or \hphantom{<stuff>}, for example.

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I would also love to use some phantom-like command but for negative space, i.e., going back in an amount given by a forward-written word. Example, I want to write math over path. Then my code should be: math \negphantom{math} path. Is it possible in an easy way? Maybe folding a phantom inside something to rotate/reflect it? But would that provide the same placement for the h's of math and path? –  Andrestand Feb 11 at 9:00
    
Or maybe some way of getting the size in pt of {whichever strange code object} may print in the pdf? (like \fontcharwd..., but not for simple characters, here) –  Andrestand Feb 11 at 10:04
    
My approach for my first comment is: math\begin{rotate}{180}\scalebox{-1}[-1]{p\phantom{ath}}\end{rotate}, which requires the rotating package and also graphicx. It would be nice to do with rotatebox what I do with the rotate environment, in order to avoid using both packages, but I haven't be able due to the way it rotates or keeps a fixed center. –  Andrestand Feb 11 at 13:30
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@Andrestand: Use \newcommand{\negphantom}[1]{\settowidth{\dimen0}{#1}\hspace*{-\dimen0}}. –  Werner Feb 11 at 15:13
    
that way provides a bad alignment when using math \negphantom{math} path, but the commands \settowidth, \width, etc. were what I was looking for. Reading about them I found I can define \negphantom also like: bla math\makebox[-\width]{path}\makebox[\width]{\phantom{path}} bla. To ask LaTeX to give or print the value of variables I may read this... –  Andrestand Feb 13 at 12:00
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