# Decrease length of underscore character in normal text (gender_gap)

I use the underscore character _ in normal text mode (not typewriter). However, it is quite long. How can I decrease its length so that it is shorter?

I followed the Tex FAQ on how to typeset an underscore character using this:

\documentclass[oneside]{scrbook}

% (1) choose a font that is available as T1
\usepackage{lmodern}

% (2) specify encoding
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}

\usepackage{textcomp}

\begin{document}
Forscher\_innen, Protagonist\_innen, etc.
\end{document}


However the outcome looks like this then:

If the underscore was a bit shorter, everything would be fine. I would rather not like to solve this by inserting a \rule as I would still be able to search the resulting PDF file for a string like Forscher_innen.

The background is that I use the so called Gender Gap (german wikipedia), i.e. underscores within normal text.

• It seems to be specific with the font use. the standard LaTeX fonts (computer modern or the more recent Latin modern) seem to have a very long underscore character. Using other fonts (e.g., \usepackage{times} or \usepackage{palatino}) give completely different results, probably much closer to what you would expect. Aug 18, 2013 at 14:16

I agree with ArTourter that you are probably better off simply choosing a font that has an appropriately sized underscore character. However, here's a hack using the relsize package that allows you to scale the underscore character to your liking. It would also be possible to use the underscore character only from a different font, but I'm not sure that the result is desirable, given that different fonts have different stroke weights. I've shown examples of both options in the document below:

\documentclass[oneside]{scrbook}

% (1) choose a font that is available as T1
\usepackage{lmodern}
\usepackage{relsize}
% (2) specify encoding
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}

\renewcommand{\_}{\textscale{.7}{\textunderscore}}
\begin{document}
Forscher\_innen, Protagonist\_innen, etc.

% Original length for comparison
\renewcommand{\_}{\textscale{1}{\textunderscore}}
Forscher\_innen, Protagonist\_innen, etc.

% Underscore from Times
\renewcommand{\_}{{\fontfamily{ptm}\selectfont\textunderscore}}
Forscher\_innen, Protagonist\_innen, etc.

\end{document}


Extending Alan Munn's proposition, I finally came out with this, which does not modify \_, but still makes it right in PDFs (copying and searching work as they should)

\newcommand{\gendergap}{\kern-.5pt\adjustbox{scale={0.5}{1},raise={1.5pt}{\height}}{\textunderscore}\kern-.5pt}

Forscher\gendergap innen, Protagonist\gendergap innen


I also added these for having prettier source code:

\newcommand\g[2]{#1\gendergap #2}
\newcommand\n{"-\gendergap\relax{}in }
\newcommand\innen{"-\gendergap\relax{}in\-nen }
\WithSuffix\newcommand\n*{"-\gendergap\relax{}in} % needs \usepackage{suffix}
\WithSuffix\newcommand\innen*{"-\gendergap\relax{}in\-nen}

\g{Der}{die} Forscher\n und Forscher\innen*, Protagonist\innen und Protagonist\n*, etc


Additionally, they allow hyphenation before the _ (without it there would not be any hyphenation possibility within for example Forscher_in, which is very long). This needs \usepackage{ngerman}.

I named it \n because \in already exists (If you read the \ as an i it does even make sense :) )

Complete document:

\documentclass[oneside]{scrbook}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[ngerman]{babel}
\usepackage{ngerman} % for "- support
\usepackage{suffix} % for the star versions

\newcommand\n{"-\gendergap\relax{}in }
\newcommand\innen{"-\gendergap\relax{}in\-nen }
\WithSuffix\newcommand\n*{"-\gendergap\relax{}in}
\WithSuffix\newcommand\innen*{"-\gendergap\relax{}in\-nen}

\begin{document}

Forscher\gendergap innen, Protagonist\gendergap innen, etc

Forscher\n und Forscher\innen*, Protagonist\innen und Protagonist\n*, etc

Line break demonstration: Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen Forscher\innen

\end{document}