I refer to this question and particularly to this answer. I defined \set by

\DeclarePairedDelimiterX\set[2]{\{}{\}}{#1 \mathrel{\delimsize|} #2}

where \mathrel{\delimsize|} imitates \mid, which itself is of math relation type but not scaleable.

Although \set[\big]{...}{...}, \set[\Big]{...}{...} etc. work fine, the starred-form \set*{...}{...} does not. The problem is that, in this case, \delimsize expands to \middle and \mathrel{\middle|} leads to an error, which can easily be reproduced:

\left\{x \mathrel{\middle|} y\right\}

I could define \set alternatively like

\DeclarePairedDelimiterX\setnew[2]{\{}{\}}{#1 \;\delimsize|\; #2}

which should produce in most cases the same spaces around | as the version above. However, there is a difference if a set is in scriptstyle:


puts no spaces around |, whereas


still prints \;|\;.

Do you know a way to make \mathrel and \middle compatible?


2 Answers 2


No space is inserted in script or scriptscript styles if you precede \; with \nonscript:

  #1 \mathclose{}\nonscript\;\delimsize|\nonscript\;\mathopen{} #2%

Another solution that avoids \nonscript is

  {#1 \mathrel{}\mathclose{}\delimsize|\mathopen{}\mathrel{} #2}
  • Thanks, this solved my problem :-) In addition, if anyone knows a solution for the other version, \set, I would be glad if you posted it, too.
    – aulste
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 18:18
  • 3
    \left, \right and \middle must be at the same brace level.
    – egreg
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 21:32
  • See edited answer.
    – egreg
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 21:53
  • Great! Your second solution is exactly what I wanted. Thank you!
    – aulste
    Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 13:40
  • 1
    @pglpm see the mathtools manual for the one arg \Set macro, it adds \mathopen for that very reason.
    – daleif
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 11:22

If you are comfortable in using the alternative spacing you suggest:

\DeclarePairedDelimiterX\setnew[2]{\{}{\}}{#1 \;\delimsize|\; #2}

rather than

\DeclarePairedDelimiterX\set[2]{\{}{\}}{#1 \mathrel{\delimsize|} #2}

then try adding


in your document preamble. \middle is part of an etex extension.

  • Thanks for your suggestion. I would prefer \set to \setnew. Unfortunately, adding \usepackage{etex} didn't have an effect on both versions. The problem is not that the \middle command doesn't work but that it causes an error if I put \mathrel{...} around it.
    – aulste
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 14:38

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