As to quoting math symbols, we already find nice answers in How to write quotation marks in math environment?

But I have a question to a problem that doesn't show up in the examples in the above article: What's the best way to enclose a single math symbol in double or single quotation marks with proper spacing?

``$R$'' or $``R"$ or \textit{``$R$''} or \textit{``R''} \dots

enter image description here

In the first two, the opening double quote is a bit too far from "R" and the closing one is a bit too close. The third and fourth ones are better but you still see asymmetry (the closing quote is a bit too far). Is there a standard solution? What do people do in this situation?

Edit: I ask this question because I very often write things like

In the above equation, ``$R$'' stands for the ratio of . . . 

You could argue that a simple $R$ without double quotes is good enough in this example because "R" is italicized, but I often feel the emphasis isn't conspicuous enough.

Edit 2: I corrected my description of the third and fourth examples. At first I thought they look different, but LaRiFaRi has made me realize that they are identical! Sorry for the confusion.

  • It would be good if you explain a bit about why you are doing this. What does it mean. How do you use it. Will it be in text, inside a formula... And please always provide an MWE showing your documentclass and possibly used fonts.
    – LaRiFaRi
    Apr 30, 2015 at 9:23
  • Thank you for your comment. I've modified my example into a minimal working example (MWE), but I was wondering how to compile it and paste the result to my posting.
    – Ryo
    Apr 30, 2015 at 13:32
  • I have added it for you. Maybe, you do not have enough reputation yet to do so. You have got my answer since three hours. Maybe you give me some feedback as it does not yet got any upvote or comment from you. Without that, I do not know how to help further.
    – LaRiFaRi
    Apr 30, 2015 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


The first two are the same. And so are the last two (both times possibly taking different fonts. But math and text font do not differ here as far as I see). But the last two are having slanted quotation marks. Do you want that? If yes, try italic correction such as \textit{``\/$R$''}.

Personally, I would go for the very first one. It has the best syntax and does not look too bad. If you use it in just a few cases and you dislike it, you may type ``$R$\kern.3ex'' or alike.

In every case, I would recommend a custom command for such things. Like this, you stay absolutely flexible for later changes.

% arara: pdflatex

% this package enables you to change your quotation style afterwards. 
% with this command, you can add a kerning to all possible math quotations and of course change or delete them later, if you change the font or dislike your first chose.

% upright versions:
``$R$'' is equal to  $``R"$ 

% italic versions:
\textit{``$R$''} is equal to \textit{``R''}

% possible corrections for both versions
\textit{``\/$R$''} ``$R$\kern.3ex''

% recommended approach via custom command and csquotes:
\mathenquote{a\times b}

enter image description here

  • Thanks! So, as long as we know that the math italic is the same as the text italic, \textit{``R''} looks best among the solutions that do not involve manual tuning. If you don't mind manual tuning, your solution with kern is best. (I mean, the upright quotes don't look correct on the italicized symbol, and LaTeX probably doesn't include a native or built-in solution to this problem, I guess . . .)
    – Ryo
    Apr 30, 2015 at 13:50
  • @Ryo I am confused: Does the second row look like two different versions to you? I believe they look the same. Then you say that my kerning version is best, but this is the upright version which you dislike. Personally, I would not set those quotes italicized as the surrounding text is set normal. The italic of the R means 'math', not 'emphasis'. I do not think, there will be a native solution. This depends on the fonts you are using. But my implemented automatism is just one more line of code...
    – LaRiFaRi
    Apr 30, 2015 at 14:07
  • Sorry for the confusion. "Does the second row look like two different versions to you?" No. Your kerning version looks best to my eye, aesthestically. Your second line (\textit) looks better to me than the first line but the distances of the quotation symbols from the R character are asymmetric on the left and right. My judgement is based on my aesthetics. "But my implemented automatism is just one more line of code" --- True, but we would have to adjust the number "0.3ex" depending on the font or even on the character we are quoting, wouldn't we?
    – Ryo
    May 1, 2015 at 1:04
  • @Ryo you will just need to adjust it for each font. Try it with some characters and find a good intermediate value. It is just kind of an italic correction which would be a fix value in LaTeX anyway. Italic correction is the \/ I used in one of the examples
    – LaRiFaRi
    May 1, 2015 at 11:01

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