For my text-in-mathmode needs in LaTeX, I use \mbox. However, it does not seem to behave well in subscripts. How can I write text that adjusts its height?

$ 3 \mbox{dB} = f_{ 3 \mbox{dB} } $

compiles to



Use the \text macro of the amsmath package instead of \mbox for general text in mathmode. It takes care of these issues.

Note that for units in math- or textmode the use of the siunitx package is highly recommended.

  • Thanks. Should I always use \text instead of \mbox? – Tim N Mar 6 '11 at 23:01
  • @Tim: For text inside mathmode yes, but not in textmode. – Martin Scharrer Mar 6 '11 at 23:06
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    I do not quite agree, say you want to specify the radius of a circular lake, then $R_{\textup{lake}}$ would be a better choice. Why try setting it in an italic context. So for named indices I'd use \textup, one could use \mathrm or \textrm, but then what if one is using a sans serif context, so in these cases \textup (i.e. non italic text font) is better. But for general comments in math, \text is the right choice – daleif Mar 6 '11 at 23:13
  • @daleif: I didn't know about \textup which seems to be a nice alternative to \text. I was talking more about the general case in \mbox vs. \text where \text (or its friends) should always be used. – Martin Scharrer Mar 6 '11 at 23:19
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    @daleif: \textup is also not optimal; it'll be bold in a bold context. I guess \textnormal is better. – Hendrik Vogt Feb 15 '13 at 20:22

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