I'm investigating about possible strategies to get nice vectors, discarding bold fonts. To make it simple, I'm not very happy with traditional ways of writing vectors with arrows. Please compare $\overrightarrow{OM}$, $\overrightarrow{M}$, $\vec{OM}$ and $\vec{M}$. My preference goes to the $\vec{M}$ command which is not suited for longer names like $\vec{OM}$ and I do not like \overrightarrow. I would be interested in possibles ways to overcome these problems. Thank you

  • 3
    One thought is that $\vec{M}$ and $\vec{OM}$ are pretty different things: the first is the vector called 'M', the second the (nameless) vector from point O to point M (as you of course know). You'd want those to be formatted in very different ways, so the fact that $\vec{OM}$ doesn't work is neither surprising nor undesirable. Aug 18, 2010 at 17:39
  • I think you are right but sometimes, you still need something like $\vec{OM}$ and none of the existing solutions look fine to me.
    – pluton
    Aug 23, 2010 at 2:45

3 Answers 3


The esvect package allows to choose between several vector arrows:

alt text

Width (according to the argument) and size (according to the context, normal, subscripts, subsubscripts) are automatically calculated.

  • I stop using TeX's way of denoting vectors and \renewcommand\vec{\mathbold}. This is the case where everybody else is assuming bold letters the standard format for vectors.
    – Leo Liu
    Aug 19, 2010 at 6:18
  • but how do you make the difference between a vector written in a basis and a vector as an object? (same difference as a tensor and its respective matrix in a specific basis?)
    – pluton
    Aug 23, 2010 at 2:42

Just be sure to use your own newcommand as a wrapper, so that you can then make any changes you like. I recently changed the textbook I wrote for my class from bold-face notation to over-arrow notation. (I did this because the students preferred it. If, this year, the students prefer bold-face, I can go back to that in a jiffy.)

  • this is a very good advice. Most of latex works should be thought this way.
    – pluton
    Aug 23, 2010 at 2:43

This has long been a bugbear for me as well. While boldface is standard in my field, and good enough for almost all of my work, there have always been occasions when I wished for extensible and well-placed harpoons as well.

Prompted by your question, I've looked once more, and found a potential solution: I submit for your approval the harpoon package.

  • 1
    this package seems a bit old.
    – pluton
    Aug 23, 2010 at 13:29

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