I am struggling with a problem I can't even name properly: I'm writing an article about an object A as well as its slightly different variant A'. I am wondering what character/symbol and/or spacing magic I need for the '.

I started by simply using ' but this gives me an pretty nasty space between the A and the '. Then I tried to correct that with A\kern-0.1em' Unfortunately this is not consistent as things get stretched around to fill the page (in some cases there's just as much space as without kerning).

I also read through the giant symbol archive but at a glance I couldn't find anything appropriate. Well, I didn't know what I'm looking for so maybe I missed it. Surely this type of notation is quite common?

Is there any better way to achieve this? Honestly I don't even know if an apostrophe is the right kind of dash for this kind of labeling. So any suggestions for coding magic or new symbols are welcome.

Many thanks.

  • 1
    For individual letters, you can use the kern, as in A\kern-1.7pt'. Each letter will, in general, require a different kerning. Something similar in math mode: $\mathrm{A\!}'$ Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 20:29

2 Answers 2


try this:

$\mathrm{A}' \quad \mathrm{X}' \quad
 \mathrm{A}\!' \quad \mathrm{A}\mkern-2mu' $

output of example code

the large gap between the A and the prime is because of the shape of the A. if you have\mathrm{X}' the spacing is much nicer. so "backing up" the prime is what is needed. a negative thinspace, \!, is too much, but \mkern-2mu may be just about right. (a thin space = 3mu.)


If you do A' in text mode, you get an A followed by a single right quote (a separate symbol). Use math mode to attach a prime to a symbol.

A' \quad $A'$


  • Thanks. The prime character looks good. Unfortunately math-ifying the whole thing also puts the A in italics which I'd rather avoid. And when I un-math the A or the A' with something silly like $\mathrm{A}'$ or $\mbox{A'}$ the A straightens out again - and is as far away from the (beautiful) ' as ever. Any suggestions on that?
    – user38088
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 20:20
  • @user38088 --- I think you will need to use negative spacing to get the prime closer to the A (TeX puts characters in rectangular boxes and you need the boxes to overlap). Can you add an example that shows how your use of \kern goes wrong? Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 20:58
  • @barbara-beeton's reply did the trick. Thanks for helping!
    – user38088
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 21:01

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