I want to use the double-bar notation for second-order tensors, which is common in continuum mechanics (e.g. for the strain and stress tensors).

I've searched the Comprehensive LATEX Symbol List but failed to find anything conclusive in there.

I've found this discussion, in which Stefan and Thorsten propose the alternatives below.

Is there a preferred way of typesetting this accent?

Subsidiary question: what is the difference between \bar and \Bar?

$\bar{\bar\tau} \quad
\Bar{\Bar\tau} \quad

enter image description here

  • 1
    \show\Bar gives \bar so no difference (at least in amsmath) – percusse Apr 6 '13 at 15:08
  • amsmath.sty has \def\Bar{\bar}, so (as percusse said) there's no difference (in amsmath). – Gonzalo Medina Apr 6 '13 at 15:12
  • 5
    In a previous version of amsmath, in order to get double accents one had to use the uppercase variant; this is no longer necessary from amsmath version 2. The old commands have been retained for backwards compatibility. – egreg Apr 6 '13 at 16:53
  • There's also the Unicode combining character U+033F ◌̿ "COMBINING DOUBLE OVERLINE", which seems to introduce less vertical space between the two horizontal bars stacked: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overline#Unicode – Felipe G. Nievinski Jun 9 '20 at 6:52

egreg's comment comforted me in the thought that both \bar{\bar{...}} and \overline{\overline{...}} can be used to typeset double accents without any nasty side effects.

However, the best way to replicate the double-bar notation for rank-2 tensors, as found there, for instance, seems to be using \overline{\overline{...}}.

\overline{\overline{...}} should be preferred to \bar{\bar{...}} because the \overline produces a vinculum of the same width as its argument, whereas \bar only produces a vinculum of fixed width.

$\rttensor{\epsilon} \quad \rttensor{\sigma} \quad \rttensor{G}$\\[1em]
$\rttensortwo{\epsilon} \quad \rttensortwo{\sigma} \quad \rttensortwo{G}$

enter image description here

  • Aesthetically, however, \bar\bar is more pleasing than \overline\overline. – JohnRos Oct 1 '15 at 12:50
  • @JohnRos Not to me, especially if the tensor name is long. – jub0bs Oct 1 '15 at 12:52

Sometimes second rank tensors are denoted with underbars, per

enter image description here

and that's


The \underbar doesn't work as well in that case.

  • this solution is inferior, though, because the variable is no longer displayed italic – IceFire Apr 10 '19 at 9:34

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