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
$\nu_{\rm FWHM}$

prints FWHM too large. But when I try:

$\nu_{\mbox{\tiny FWHM}}$

the size is okay but the kerning looks wrong.

What is the best way to make a compact little FWHM subscript tag on my variables?


$\nu_{\textsc{\tiny fwhm}}$

\newcommand{\FWHM}{{\textsc{\tiny fwhm}}}
share|improve this question
Try \scriptstyle instead of tiny. – azetina Oct 2 '12 at 18:12
$\nu_{\scriptscriptstyle\rm FWHM}$ will give you the second one. Then you can squeeze them with negative space $\nu_{\scriptscriptstyle\rm F\!W\!H\!M}$ – percusse Oct 2 '12 at 18:12
\scriptstyle actually resulted in larger text than \tiny – Mike Oct 2 '12 at 21:13
up vote 11 down vote accepted

This will overlap with Mico's answer, but there are couple of extra points that I'd like to make.

Loading amsmath has the nice feature that text font changing commands may be used in mathematics and the text resizes appropriately in subscripts etc. The commands \textrm, \textit etc. may be used directly without having to invoke an additional \text command. Often these direct commands are to be preferred over \text, because the latter inherits the font characterisitics from the surounding text. My standard solution for such situation is to define a macro and use the \textnormal command to avoid this.






\( B_\FHWM \) vs. \( B_{\text{FHWM}} \) and
\( X_{B_\FHWM} \) vs. \( X_{B_{\text{FHWM}}} \)

 Preferring \( B_\FHWM \) to  \( B_{\text{FHWM}} \)

\textbf{\( B_\FHWM \) vs. \( B_{\text{FHWM}} \)}

Sample output

An alternative to \textnormal is \textup, which will produce upright inside italic and slanted text, but will turn bold inside bold text.

However, in your case you are putting the subscript on a small symbol \nu and the above looks too big. The small caps shape from \textsc is often designed to give the best spacing for such combinations and is a standard choice for acronyms. You need to remember to write \textsc{fwhm} instead of \textsc{FWHM} as the latter usually produces capitals of the same size as \textrm capitals. One thing to be aware of is that the standard fonts have no bold variant of \textsc, so I suggest you additionally use \textnormal to avoid surprises. Your request for a very small font is provided by the \tiny command. (My personal preference would be to omit that or to use a command from the relsize package.) Below is an example with \tiny included.




\newcommand{\FHWM}{\textnormal{\tiny \textsc{fhwm}}}


\( \nu_\FHWM \) vs. \( \nu_{\textsc{fhwm}} \) vs. \( \nu_{\text{FHWM}} \) 
\( X_{\nu_\FHWM} \) vs. \( X_{\nu_{\textsc{fhwm}}} \) vs. \( X_{\nu_{\text{FHWM}}} \)

 Preferring \( \nu_\FHWM \) to  \( \nu_{\text{FHWM}} \)

\textbf{\( \nu_\FHWM \) vs. \( \nu_{\textsc{fhwm}} \) vs. \( \nu_{\text{FHWM}} \)}

Sample with textsc and tiny

The bold cases in the above examples are there just to illustrate pitfalls. If you really intend to use this in such contexts, then you need to think about what fonts you wish to appear and build the commands appropriately.

share|improve this answer
All I had to do was \usepackage{amsmath} and everything worked! Thanks! – René G Apr 19 '15 at 23:36

You may want to load the amsmath package to access its \text macro and type (in math mode, obviously):


Don't use the \rm command in a LaTeX document.

Addendum -- @AndrewSwann has pointed out that FHWM, being an acronym, should be typeset in small-caps letters, i.e., as \textsc{fhwm}. Defining the acronym command \FHWM with \newcommand\FHWM{\textsc{fhwm}}, the following possibilities arise for typesetting the acronym as a subscript to \nu:

$\nu_{\text{FWHM}}$ % regular caps, subscript in "scriptsize" font size

$\nu_\FHWM$         % small caps, subscript in "scriptsize" font size

$\nu_{\text{\tiny\FHWM}} $  %  small caps, subscript in "tiny" font size

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
I second the use of amsmath, but in this case would suggest \( \nu_{\textsc{fwhm}} \) with amsmath loaded. – Andrew Swann Oct 2 '12 at 18:26
@AndrewSwann: I have no idea what FHWM may stand for. If it's an acronym, it would certainly be a good idea for the OP to set up a command such as \newcommand\FHWM{\textsc{fhwm}} in the preamble and then to use this macro throughout the document -- including in $\nu_{\text{\FHWM}}$. – Mico Oct 2 '12 at 18:43
FWHM is acronym for Full Width Half Maximum. It is used to measure the spread of a Gaussian beam (like laser beam). – mythealias Oct 2 '12 at 19:53
@mythealias: thanks for providing this confirmation. Since it's an acronym that is (probably) used repeatedly in your paper, it's definitely worth implementing Andrew Swann's suggestion. – Mico Oct 2 '12 at 20:05
@AndrewSwann amsmath did the trick. \textsc{\tiny fwhm} Is the final solution. Using lower case fwhm makes all the difference compared with \textsc{\tiny FWHM} or any other combination. Post an answer and I'll accept. – Mike Oct 2 '12 at 21:28

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.