# make math symbol italic

I must admit that I don't really know my way around LaTeX, pretty much at all. Anyway, here's my problem:

I want to include the symbols \flat and \sharp in my text. Unfortunately I only receive errors when I put them in like that. So I declared this somewhere

\newcommand{\vb}{\ensuremath{\flat}}


and it works quite well. Unfortunately I need my text with this symbol always in italics. So when I write B\vb (in italics) the B and the flat sign will intersect.

Is there any way I can force the flat sign to be italicised?

• Do you write \textit{B\vb}? In that case, a little kerning might help, for example \textit{B\kern0.04em\vb} or \newcommand{\itkern}{\kern0.04em} and \textit{B\itkern\vb}. Adjust the \kerning value according to your needs. – moewe Sep 30 '13 at 15:22
• – jubobs Sep 30 '13 at 15:43
• Thanks for both of your replies. I exchanged the math mode for $...$ now. And adjusting kerning for these two symbols works to prevent the intersection, so that's nice. But it does look a bit odd to have the first Letter in italics and then the straight symbol afterwards. So while my big problem is solved I still wonder: Is there any way I can force the \flat (or \sharp) sign to be italicised? – James Sep 30 '13 at 15:55
• You would need to have a font that contains an italic flat/sharp symbol (I don't know if there are any). You could also try and fake-slant the symbol (probably not the best idea). – moewe Sep 30 '13 at 15:58
• How could I try that? – James Sep 30 '13 at 16:25

The italic flat isn't prepared in the fonts. But if you really need it and you are using pdfTeX with direct output to PDF then you can try this:

\def\flatit{\setbox0=\hbox{$\flat$}%
\pdfliteral{q 1 0 .3 1 0 0 cm}\rlap{$\flat$}\pdfliteral{Q}\kern\wd0 }

{\it B\flatit C}


If you are not using pdfTeX with direct PDF output but you create PDF via (x)dvipdfm(x) (XeTeX chooses this way) then you can add the following definition:

\def\pdfliteral#1{\special{pdf:literal #1}}

• For anyone wanting to use this for other symbols/fonts, then note that italic font usually have an angle of 10-12 degrees, which is a shearing factor of 0.18 to 0.21. A factor of 0.3 is 16.7 degrees which is will probably be too much for most symbols in most fonts (the shearing factor is just tan of the incline angle). – poizan42 Mar 13 '17 at 2:08

The symbols don't clash if you use the proper input:

\documentclass{article}
\begin{document}
{\itshape B$\flat$ B$\sharp$}

\textit{B}$\flat$ \textit{B}$\sharp$

$B\flat$ $B\sharp$
\end{document}


If you really need the flat in an italic context, precede it with \/:

{\itshape B\/$\flat$}


Of course you can define your personal command like you did.

• And an italic flat would make no sense. – egreg Sep 7 '14 at 0:16