As you go from \displaystyle to \scriptstyle to \scriptscriptstyle, letters and numbers, for instance, shrink. Weirdly, to my mind, the prime symbol (') shrinks from \displaystyle to \scriptstyle, but then is again the same size in \scripstscriptstyle. For example:

a {\scriptstyle a} {\scriptscriptstyle a} \quad
' {\scriptstyle '} {\scriptscriptstyle '} \quad
a' {\scriptstyle a'} {\scriptscriptstyle a'}

Various prime sizes

The effect of this is that sometimes (eg in certain sub or superscripts or labels), primes look much too large relative to the surrounding symbols.

How should one produce a properly scriptscriptstyle-sized prime symbol?

  • 9
    The prime you get in displaystyle/textstyle is already in subscriptstyle: ' stands for ^{\prime}; thus you get a scriptscriptstyle prime in scriptstyle and the same in scriptscriptstyle.
    – egreg
    Apr 21, 2013 at 23:02
  • @egreg: Okay, thanks, that explains why it is happening. How do you obtain a prime symbol that is scaled down from scriptscriptstyle by the same amount that scriptscriptstyle is scaled down from scriptstyle, so that {\scriptscriptstyle a'} produces output that looks correct rather than misproportioned?
    – Chris
    Apr 22, 2013 at 16:20
  • It's possible, but not with the ' syntax.
    – egreg
    Apr 22, 2013 at 16:34
  • Okay, great. I'm not wedded to the ' syntax. What do you recommend instead?
    – Chris
    Apr 22, 2013 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


The scalerel package can do this. I made the scriptscript prime equal to .6 the size of the script prime. One invokes it as \ssp{base} to get base'




a {\scriptstyle a} {\scriptscriptstyle a} \quad
' {\scriptstyle '} %{\scriptscriptstyle '} 
{\scriptscriptstyle \ssp{\rule{0ex}{1ex}}}
a' {\scriptstyle a'} %{\scriptscriptstyle a'}
{\scriptscriptstyle \ssp{a}}


enter image description here

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .