I would like to make a new math symbol from overlapping two symbols, such as $\nabla\kern-7.5pt\nabla$. The problem is that the symbol spacing is altered depending on the line, often to the point where the overlap is not recognisable. From looking at other replies I understand that fixing this is likely to do with adding box commands, but there are so many of these that I am not sure where to start! Any help appreciated (I am obviously not an expert ...)

  • 1
    Are you using the new symbol in math formulas? What should it denote?
    – egreg
    Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 15:14
  • Yes, it is an operator, a variant of nabla for a derivative Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


I would use \mkern instead of \kern, because it uses unit mu, which follows the math style:

  {\nabla\mkern-12mu\nabla}% subformula acts as \mathord
\[ \doublenabla_{\doublenabla_{\doublenabla}} \]


Adjust the shift value to your needs.

  • Tried it and it looks good - thanks Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 15:31

Another possibility using mathtools to specify the offset from the left rather than from the right produces slightly different spacing:


double nablas

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