I have used \text{something} several times in math mode. The result is rendered like I want it to be rendered, but I think this might not the best way to do it in LaTeX.

What I currently do

Hopefully correct usage of \text

A longer one:

    U \subseteq \mathbb{R}^n \text{ offen} \Leftrightarrow 
       &\text{ für jedes } x \in U \text{ gibt es } r > 0,\\
       &\text{ sodass } \fB_r(x) = \Set{y \in \mdr^n | d(x,y) < r} \subseteq U

Probably incorrect

  • $g \circ f = \text{id}_X$: Donote the identity function.
  • $\text{Isom}(X)$: Isometry group
  • $\text{grad}(F)(x) \neq 0$: Degree of a function
  • $\text{conv}(v_0, \dots, v_k): Convex hull of some points

Alternatives to \text

I've searched for alternatives and found the following:

  • \[ \text{Let } x = \text{ number of cats} \]: Provided by the amsmath package.
  • \[ \mbox{Let } x = \mbox{ number of cats} \]
  • \[ \textrm{Let } x = \textrm{ number of cats} \]
  • \operatorname{sgn} and \DeclareMathOperator{\sgn}{sgn}: Provided by amsmath. I think I should use this for my currently incorrect usages. But I'm not sure if this is semantically correct.
  • $\mathrm{Gal}(f)$

\newcommand{\x}[1]{\text{#1}} might also be interesting. This would at least give me a command for groups / the identity. At the end, it will also be text, but it lets me switch easier to better variants.


  • Are the two examples which I labeled as correct actually correct? Are there better alternatives?
  • How do the "Alternatives to \text" differ? Did I miss some good ones?
  • What should I use for my "Probably incorrect" ones?

Related questions

I've read the following questions and answers (which did only partially help):

2 Answers 2


I'm afraid you hit no correct choice. ;-)

  • $\fT_\text{triv} = \Set{\emptyset, X}$: incorrect. Define

    \newcommand{\ts}[1]{\textnormal{#1}} % textual subscript

    and use $\fT_{\ts{triv}}. You can later change your mind about the typesetting of \ts. With \text you're not guaranteed to get upright shape, for example in the statement of a theorem.

  • $g \circ f = \text{id}_X$: incorrect. Define


    (or with \textit, which I'd prefer).

  • $\text{Isom}(X)$: incorrect. It's an operator, so $\operatorname{Isom}(X)$. Defining a command with \DeclareMathOperator is of course a good choice. The same considerations hold for “grad”, “cov”, ”sgn” and ”Gal”.

  • \[ \text{Let } x = \text{ number of cats} \]: incorrect. “Let” should not go in the displayed equation. So

    x=\text{number of cats}

    with no space before “number”.

The longer one should be

U \subseteq \mathbb{R}^n \text{ offen} \Leftrightarrow 
  &\text{für jedes $x \in U$ gibt es $r > 0$,}\\
  &\text{sodass $\fB_r(x) = \Set{y \in \mdr^n | d(x,y) < r} \subseteq U$}

so you don't have to think where spaces are necessary.

I wouldn't use a macro \Set with delimited argument, preferring

\newcommand{\Set}[2]{\{\,#1\mid #2\,\}}

and \Set{y \in \mdr^n}{d(x,y) < r}. This is more consistent with LaTeX syntax. If your \Set macro has just one normal argument, then use \mid and not |.

  • Thanks for your answer. I've changed my document according to your recommendations. Can you please also tell me what's the difference between textrm and mathrm? When should mbox be used? By the way, I use \Set from the braket package. Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 18:13
  • Or better, use this answer to define \Set: tex.stackexchange.com/a/150516/3929, I'm no longer a fan of the two argument version, preferring one that makes more sense when read
    – daleif
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 18:40
  • @moose \mathrm uses a math alphabet, which for letters happens to be the same as the main text font; \textrm just does the same it does in normal text.
    – egreg
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 20:19

\text is a relatively complex and tricky operation and should only really be used for embedding a textual phrase using the font setup of the outer text flow. Your examples all seem to be mathematical identifiers so I would use \mathrm if you want a normal (\mathord) symbold (\mathrm{Id}) or \DeclareMathOperator (which is just a nicer declarative way of getting \mathop{\mathrm{grad}} when you want a log-like operator spacing.

But if your real example is "number of cats" rather than Isom then probably I'd use \text.

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