I use \arrowvert as a middle delimiter. For example in the definition of sets, i.e. \lbrace x \arrowvert x < a \rbrace. Moreover, I try to avoid \left, \right and \middle but use the AMSmath macros \bigl, \Bigl, ... to set the size explicitly.

If I need the delimiters in "normal" size, I do not use any macro, but then I notice a different horizontal (!) spacing. Consider the case in that \left, \right and \middle can be used without effect, because all enclosed symbols have at most normal size. Then

\lbrace x \arrowvert x < a \rbrace

\left\lbrace x \middle\arrowvert x < a \right\rbrace

look the same vertically, but there is a little bit more horizontal space of both sides of the middle delimiter. Actually, the visual appearance of the latter looks more correct.

The same amount of additional space around the middle delimiter is inserted by the AMSmath keywords \big, \Big, ...

But what shall I do, if I need the normally sized delimiters but cannot use the triplet \left, \middle, \right because there is some over-sized content?

Using no macro as suggested by the AMSmath manual is no option, because then the additional space around the middle delimter is missing. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be something like a \normall, \normal, \normalr triplet that does no scaling but fits the horizontal spacing of the other macros.

  • Does \mid do what you want? (in normally sized)
    – morbusg
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 10:31
  • No. \mid is a binary operator and has a totally different spacing. Actually one should never use \mid in this context because it has the wrong class-code. But even if one would not care of correct class-codes and only consider correct visual appearance, \mid looks totally different. \arrowvert, \vert, \bracevert and just | are all (middle) delimiters (with different "thickness"). I can see this slight different behaviour with all of them.
    – nagmat84
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 10:39
  • You should look at the documentation of mathtools, in particular to \DeclarePairedDelimiterX
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 11:03
  • Related: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/498/…
    – morbusg
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 11:42
  • 1
    @nagmat84 You're wrong about \mid, which is a relation symbol, so it's the right kind. The difference is that \arrowvert is arbitrarily extendable, which \mid isn't; but \mid has rounded ends, while \arrowvert has sharp ends.
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 12:35

2 Answers 2


Ah, that's a different question. Unfortunately, a math symbol can be either of class mathopen or mathclose, but not both at the same time.

But the following construction should do:


for an equivalent to \middle\arrowvert. I tested it and on my screen it looks the same. But, since \arrowvert is of type mathord (and not mathrel, as I suspected previously), the direct use of \arrowvert also is really close in its look to \middle\arrowvert.


Note the exact behaviour of \middle in eTeX as spelled out in the reference (http://archiv.dante.de/projects/nts/archiv/etex-ref-prel.html#middle):

analogous to TeX's \left and \right, \middle specifies that the following delimiter is to serve both as a right and left delimiter; it will be set with spacing appropriate to a right delimiter w.r.t. the preceding atom(s), and with spacing appropriate to a left delimiter w.r.t. the succeeding atom(s).

You see, that \middle itself does not behave as a mathematical relation. You can force it to do so by adding \mathrel:


Should do what you want.

  • 1
    Did you actually test this? \mathrel hides \middle from \left...\right.
    – daleif
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 12:50
  • 2
    Are you meaning \mathrel{}\middle\arrowvert\mathrel{}, perhaps?
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 12:53
  • I do not want \middle to behave like a relation, the pre-defined behaviour with horizontal spacing to the left like a right delimiter and vice versa is totally correct. I need a naked \arrowvert to behave like a \middle\arrowvert, \big\arrowvert and so on. A naked \arrowvert is necesssary, if I need a middle delimiter without sizing adjustment. Hence, either I need \arrowvert to behave like a middle delimiter on its own or I need a new \normalmiddle command that makes a following \arrowvert behave like a delimiter without sizing correction.
    – nagmat84
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 7:43
  • @nagmat84 Do you mean {\arrowvert} (with the braces)?
    – yo'
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 10:35

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