I would like to put some text in math mode below a mathematical operator (or a symbol), similar to \substack in \sum, as the red text below the \max operator in the following image

example subscript

How to do this?

4 Answers 4


You should place the expression in the subscript, as shown below. Most LaTeX books explain this. E.g.


    \item \textbf{Display mode}:
        \[\max_{1 \leq i \leq N}\]
    \item \textbf{Inline mode}: version without \verb!\limits! would look like \(\max_{1 \leq i \leq N}\), version with \verb!\limits! would look like\(\max\limits_{1 \leq i \leq N}\) inside a text.

output of code

Note how \limits command force the subscript under operator in inline mode (if you think you need \limits, think again — maybe the defaults look better after all! cf. this answer here on TeX.se).

If you find that the subscripted expression is too long and introduces excessive whitespace, you could use \smashoperator macro from the mathtools package, as in this post.

  • 1
    ah thanks, I thought it was limited to \sum command only. Silly me.
    – Yumyai
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 10:07

Solved this for Inline mode by using $\underset{1 \leq j \leq n}{\max}$, however this approach requires the amsmath package.

  • 11
    This is particularly useful when using user defined operators. $\operatorname{Res}\limits_{z=z_{0}}$ will not give you the desired result, whilst $\underset_{z=z_{0}}{\operatorname{Res}}$ will. Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 17:56
  • 2
    This is also useful when you want to put a subscript under something LaTeX doesn't think is a math operator (like that's a meaningful distinction), and therefore prevents the use of \limits. Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 14:45
  • 12
    @AlfredoHernández I think \operatorname* is the way to go for \limits-compatible custom math operators. Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 20:01

I would solve it like this:

    \max\limits_{1\leq j\leq n}
  • 10
    In display math, there's no need to use \limits. Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 9:07

As someone suggest above. We should use \underset command:

\underset{1\leqslant j\leqslant n}{max}.

\underset{\substack{\rho\to 0\\ n\to\infty}}{l.i.m.} 

(for my question above).

  • 2
    I try to format code in your answer, however it suggest strange solution with wrong typography. Also is not clear what you mean with "(for my question above)." so I suggest to delete it.
    – Zarko
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 3:02
  • 1
    I would not delete it, it works like a charm for me.
    – ranchalp
    Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 4:38
  • Thanks for the \substack suggestion, it allows multiple lines. I was using simply \\ but it didn't work. Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 8:39

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