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: $\mathrm{A\!}'$ – Steven B. Segletes Oct 10 '13 at 20:29

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 Oct 10 '13 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? – Ian Thompson Oct 10 '13 at 20:58
  • @barbara-beeton's reply did the trick. Thanks for helping! – user38088 Oct 10 '13 at 21:01

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