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I am writing a manuscript in which I have tons of expressions looking like

q_{\iota(i),\mu_{\ind_{\mu}(\iota(i))}+1}\cdots q_{\iota(i),\mu_{m(a)}}x_i.

which rendered looks like

enter image description here

Sadly, they are mostly unreadable! If I could have subscripts go lower, so that their hierarchy were more evident, I think things would be less bad...

Can this be done (locally, ideally)?

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I have in mind the image of Spivak's five-tome book on geometry, typeset using a writing machine, and with deeeeeep subscripts... –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Jan 30 '13 at 22:09
I recommend that you avoid this: the extra space above the terms is not going to add much clarity and having different typesetting for subscripts in different parts of the text risks confusion. Since subscripts generally represent indexing, which can be rendered in terms of function application, perhaps changing one of your indexed terms to a function would work? The dyadically indexed q looks like a likely candidate. –  Charles Stewart Jan 30 '13 at 22:24
@Charles, That results in a morass of parentheses; I've tried (everything is generated using commands, so it is easy for me to try variants) –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Jan 30 '13 at 22:26
@cmhughes, while I certainly appreciate beautiful documents, I actually prefer to have them readable. It is not for the pleasure of torturing people that I have those formulas, trust me. –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Jan 30 '13 at 22:27
No offense but this is not readable as you wish them to be. Not beautiful ok but really not readable. \iota(i) is just unfortunate for readability. You force the eyes for the dot hunting. –  percusse Jan 30 '13 at 23:01
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1 Answer

up vote 13 down vote accepted

enter image description here

\def\ind{{\rm ind}}

$q_{\iota(i),\mu_{\ind_{\mu}(\iota(i))}+1}\cdots q_{\iota(i),\mu_{m(a)}}x_i$

\fontdimen16\textfont2 = 5\fontdimen16\textfont2
\fontdimen16\scriptfont2 = 5\fontdimen16\scriptfont2 
$q_{\iota(i),\mu_{\ind_{\mu}(\iota(i))}+1}\cdots q_{\iota(i),\mu_{m(a)}}x_i$


increasing by a factor of 5 is a bit much but it shows the effect, see this answer for a list of relevant parameters. As @egreg notes in the comments these are always global settings so if you only need to do this for some formula you need to save the original values (eg \edef\savedSixteenTwo{\the\fontdimen16\textfont2 } before changing them, and set them back when you want to return to normal.

What does different \fontdimen<num> mean

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+1, but it may be worth noting that this is not temporary, even if the settings are inside the formula. –  egreg Jan 30 '13 at 22:50
Doing this inside a group will make them local, tho? –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Jan 30 '13 at 22:52
@MarianoSuárez-Alvarez No they are always global, it's just the way it is:-) –  David Carlisle Jan 30 '13 at 22:58
I take back my comment to @Mariano: the extra space does add a lot of clarity. –  Charles Stewart Jan 31 '13 at 8:28
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