I have looked at this question as well as here and here but I cannot figure out how to produce a long underscore in plain TeX, as in the following example.

Date _____________________________

The closest I have come is the obviously undesirable concatenation which leaves gaps in the rendered output.

Date  \_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_
  • \vrule height .4pt width 7cm – Manuel Nov 2 '14 at 8:13
  • @Manuel, I accept this answer! But can it be placed below the baseline as in this answer? – merlin2011 Nov 2 '14 at 8:20
  • Mmm… let's wait for a “pro answer”, the definition in LaTeX has some \leavevmode\hbox{..} but then the definition of \_ is \leavevmode\vbox{\hrule ..} so I don't really know enough. – Manuel Nov 2 '14 at 8:22

Use a negative height and a slightly bigger depth:

\vrule height -3pt depth 3.4pt width 7cm

Adjust to suit.

enter image description here

The same idea can be used for “raised rules” (with a negative depth). No rule will appear if depth + height is negative.

If you want a “low rule” that fills up a given space, leaders should be used:

  \leavevmode % be sure to be in horizontal mode
  \leaders\hrule height height -3pt depth 3.4pt\hfill % fill all available space
  \kern0pt % so \par won't remove the rule

Note that \leavevmode is necessary because the command appearing in vertical mode would raise an error because of \hfill (and would do nothing good either).

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  • As noted in comments on the question, is \leavevmode best here? – Joseph Wright Nov 2 '14 at 9:21
  • @JosephWright \vrule is a horizontal command, so there's no need. There is for \hrulefill, because it does \leaders\hrule\hfill and it would give errors in vertical mode. – egreg Nov 2 '14 at 9:25
  • Why then the definition of \_ and \rule have \leavevmode\vbox{\hrule..} and \leavemode\hbox{\vrule..}? In particular, why \leavevmode when it's unnecessary and why the definition varies between \_ with \vbox{\hrule..} instead of \hbox{\vrule..}? Even, why the \hbox/\vbox? – Manuel Nov 2 '14 at 9:36
  • @Manuel \vbox and \hbox are not horizontal commands, so they don't start a paragraph. – egreg Nov 2 '14 at 9:37

Plain TeX already defines an \hrulefill command that does this. Use it like this:

Date \hbox to 3cm{\hrulefill}


to produce

enter image description here

If you would rather have the line drawn a bit lower down, then try this:

Date \lower.2ex\hbox to 3cm{\hrulefill}


If you were going to use it more than a few times, then you could make a macro:

\def\filler#1{\noindent\lower.3ex\hbox to #1{\hrulefill}}

Date \filler{3cm}

Name: \filler{2in}



enter image description here

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