The commands \clap, \llap and \rlap are useful "horizontal" analogues of \smash: they reduce the horizontal width of a box to zero, aligning the box with either the middle, left or right of the typeset contents. Unfortunately they don't work in math mode.

Can someone suggest a math mode macro that has the effect of \clap and friends?


The mathtools package contains (among other useful things) the implementations of \mathclap and relatives from Andrew's answer.

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  • That should have come up in my search! Strange that it did not. Thanks for filling in. – Andrew Stacey Jul 27 '10 at 11:57

I don't know if they are implemented in a specific package (search CTAN), but there's an article in TUGBoat, (TUGboat 22 (2001), 350–352.) that gives an implementation. Here's the article on the author's website:


I suspect that anyone putting this in a package would have used the same names, or at least referred to this article, so searching on CTAN for the command names used there would be a reasonable thing to do.

(Breadcrumb trail: I first learnt of this via this blog post about these commands in iTeX.)

(I'm feeling generous: I just tried the obvious searches on CTAN and nothing came up; so based on that, you should copy the definitions from that article.)

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FWIW, in ConTeXt \rlap etc do the right thing in math mode as well. They are defined as


where \domathrlap and \dorlap are roughly equivalent to LaTeX's \mathrlap and \rlap.

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