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This answer provides a fantastic "ragged text highlight". Unfortunately I'm getting a weird glitch with it:

enter image description here

I have literally taken the source code from the link and replaced the material between \begin{document} and \end{document} with

{replacing} \highlight{$g$} {by} \highlight{$g^{-1}$},

The MWE is however long because the original code is long:

\documentclass{minimal}
\usepackage{soul}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{calc}
\usetikzlibrary{decorations.pathmorphing}

\makeatletter

\newcommand{\defhighlighter}[3][]{%
  \tikzset{every highlighter/.style={color=#2, fill opacity=#3, #1}}%
}

\defhighlighter{yellow}{.5}

\newcommand{\highlight@DoHighlight}{
  \fill [ decoration = {random steps, amplitude=1pt, segment length=15pt}
        , outer sep = -15pt, inner sep = 0pt, decorate
        , every highlighter, this highlighter ]
        ($(begin highlight)+(0,8pt)$) rectangle ($(end highlight)+(0,-3pt)$) ;
}

\newcommand{\highlight@BeginHighlight}{
  \coordinate (begin highlight) at (0,0) ;
}

\newcommand{\highlight@EndHighlight}{
  \coordinate (end highlight) at (0,0) ;
}

\newdimen\highlight@previous
\newdimen\highlight@current

\DeclareRobustCommand*\highlight[1][]{%
  \tikzset{this highlighter/.style={#1}}%
  \SOUL@setup
  %
  \def\SOUL@preamble{%
    \begin{tikzpicture}[overlay, remember picture]
      \highlight@BeginHighlight
      \highlight@EndHighlight
    \end{tikzpicture}%
  }%
  %
  \def\SOUL@postamble{%
    \begin{tikzpicture}[overlay, remember picture]
      \highlight@EndHighlight
      \highlight@DoHighlight
    \end{tikzpicture}%
  }%
  %
  \def\SOUL@everyhyphen{%
    \discretionary{%
      \SOUL@setkern\SOUL@hyphkern
      \SOUL@sethyphenchar
      \tikz[overlay, remember picture] \highlight@EndHighlight ;%
    }{%
    }{%
      \SOUL@setkern\SOUL@charkern
    }%
  }%
  %
  \def\SOUL@everyexhyphen##1{%
    \SOUL@setkern\SOUL@hyphkern
    \hbox{##1}%
    \discretionary{%
      \tikz[overlay, remember picture] \highlight@EndHighlight ;%
    }{%
    }{%
      \SOUL@setkern\SOUL@charkern
    }%
  }%
  %
  \def\SOUL@everysyllable{%
    \begin{tikzpicture}[overlay, remember picture]
      \path let \p0 = (begin highlight), \p1 = (0,0) in \pgfextra
        \global\highlight@previous=\y0
        \global\highlight@current =\y1
      \endpgfextra (0,0) ;
      \ifdim\highlight@current < \highlight@previous
        \highlight@DoHighlight
        \highlight@BeginHighlight
      \fi
    \end{tikzpicture}%
    \the\SOUL@syllable
    \tikz[overlay, remember picture] \highlight@EndHighlight ;%
  }%
  \SOUL@
}
\makeatother

\begin{document}
 {replacing} \highlight{$g$} {by} \highlight{$g^{-1}$},
\end{document}
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4  
The glitch occurs because the segment length of the decoration is longer than the width of the text segment you're trying to highlight. Setting segment length=10pt fixes it, but it also alters the "waviness" of the line, so maybe someone can come up with a better solution (maybe checking the length of the segment to be decorated and setting the segment length accordingly?) –  Jake Jan 2 '13 at 19:25
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1 Answer

I can't think of a quick way to modify and record the highlighted text length since I don't know much about SOUL. So, I modified the random steps decoration since it's quite short to include in the preamble.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{soul}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usepackage{lipsum}

\usetikzlibrary{decorations.pathmorphing,calc}

\makeatletter
\pgfdeclaredecoration{highlighted random steps}{start}
{
  \state{start}[width=+0pt,next state=step,persistent precomputation=\pgfdecoratepathhascornerstrue]{}
  \state{step}[auto end on length=0.5\pgfdecorationsegmentlength, % This was 1.5 now 0.5
               auto corner on length=1.5\pgfdecorationsegmentlength,               
               width=+\pgfdecorationsegmentlength]
  {
    \pgfpathlineto{
      \pgfpointadd
      {\pgfpoint{\pgfdecorationsegmentlength}{0pt}}
      {\pgfpoint{rand*\pgfdecorationsegmentamplitude}{rand*\pgfdecorationsegmentamplitude}}
    }
  }
  \state{final}
  {}
}



\newcommand{\defhighlighter}[3][]{%
  \tikzset{every highlighter/.style={color=#2, fill opacity=#3, #1}}%
}

\defhighlighter{yellow}{.5}

\newcommand{\highlight@DoHighlight}{
  \fill [ decoration = {highlighted random steps, amplitude=1pt, segment length=15pt},
        , outer sep = -15pt, inner sep = 0pt, decorate
        , every highlighter, this highlighter ]
        ([yshift=8pt]begin highlight) rectangle ([yshift=-3pt]end highlight);
}

\newcommand{\highlight@BeginHighlight}{
  \coordinate (begin highlight) at (0,0) ;
}

\newcommand{\highlight@EndHighlight}{
  \coordinate (end highlight) at (0,0) ;
}

\newdimen\highlight@previous
\newdimen\highlight@current
%\newdimen\highlight@horzdiff

\DeclareRobustCommand*\highlight[1][]{%
  \tikzset{this highlighter/.style={#1}}%
  \SOUL@setup
  %
  \def\SOUL@preamble{%
    \begin{tikzpicture}[overlay, remember picture]
      \highlight@BeginHighlight
      \highlight@EndHighlight
    \end{tikzpicture}%
  }%
  %
  \def\SOUL@postamble{%
    \begin{tikzpicture}[overlay, remember picture]
      \highlight@EndHighlight
      \highlight@DoHighlight
    \end{tikzpicture}%
  }%
  %
  \def\SOUL@everyhyphen{%
    \discretionary{%
      \SOUL@setkern\SOUL@hyphkern
      \SOUL@sethyphenchar
      \tikz[overlay, remember picture] \highlight@EndHighlight ;%
    }{%
    }{%
      \SOUL@setkern\SOUL@charkern
    }%
  }%
  %
  \def\SOUL@everyexhyphen##1{%
    \SOUL@setkern\SOUL@hyphkern
    \hbox{##1}%
    \discretionary{%
      \tikz[overlay, remember picture] \highlight@EndHighlight ;%
    }{%
    }{%
      \SOUL@setkern\SOUL@charkern
    }%
  }%
  %
  \def\SOUL@everysyllable{%
    \begin{tikzpicture}[overlay, remember picture]
      \path let \p0 = (begin highlight), \p1 = (0,0) in \pgfextra{%
        \global\highlight@previous=\y0%
        \global\highlight@current =\y1%
      }(0,0) ;
      \ifdim\highlight@current < \highlight@previous
        \highlight@DoHighlight
        \highlight@BeginHighlight
      \fi
    \end{tikzpicture}%
    \the\SOUL@syllable
    \tikz[overlay, remember picture] \highlight@EndHighlight ;%
  }%
  \SOUL@
}
\makeatother

\begin{document}
 {replacing} \highlight{$g$} {by} \highlight{$g^{-1}$}, \highlight{$\sin x \log x \tan x 
\cos x$ some more text to see if it works over a linebreak.} And normal text continues. 
\end{document}

enter image description here

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