May be related How can I get bold math symbols?

I use Scientific word, and when I wanted to make some symbols and letters as vectors. So I select, in math mode, a symbol, and then using the menu, select the bold option, it generates this code, using \mathbf. Here is an example


The above, when compiled with Latex, shows the \rho as not bold. Screen shot below. Next, I changed the selection from the menu to boldsymbol instead of bold and this the new code generated:


Now the \rho does show as bold when compiled. I was wondering why that is. I would have thought both will be bold, but different fonts? Bit confusing, since I thought what shows on the screen will be what shows in the PDF file. (ps. this issue affects \omega as well as \rho but not the letter R as can be seen)

Here is a screen shot. I am using TL 2013 to compiled the .tex code. (I only use SW to type in the Latex via the GUI). Compiled on Linux mint.

enter image description here

Fyi, the options I have to change the fonts are these shown in this screen shot.

enter image description here

  • 1
    given the underlying font situation (accurately described by david carlisle), the real question is, why does scientific word misrepresent on the screen what will actually happen when the document is compiled by latex. Oct 22, 2013 at 7:41
  • @barbarabeeton I'll send email to SW support on this screen vs. pdf appearance issue, to see what they say. SW support is really great, they always respond to each problem or question I send them, and are very helpful.
    – Nasser
    Oct 22, 2013 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


Most math symbols (in classic TeX) come from fixed fonts (one of 16 font families assigned to the math formula). Some characters (but typically just upper and lower case latin letters and digits) can be assigned a variable family in which case they pick up the current math group (\fam primitive).

\boldsymbol is more or less \mbox{\boldmath$#1$}} so makes a nested math expression in which the entire font assignment is changed.

\bm is typically more efficient and gives better spacing as (if there is a slot available) it uses a free slot in the existing version.

unicode-math package for xetex/luatex changes things.


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