I am looking for a dotted box as a placeholder for a "normal sized" character.

For example I would like to put it under a function to represent the placeholder, e.g. \sqrt{\dottedbox}. Something like this:

enter image description here

  • 2
    What do you mean with "normal sized"? A capital letter? A letter like "g"?
    – TeXnician
    Feb 10, 2017 at 9:28
  • @TeXnician Good question. I am not sure. A capital letter sounds good to me.
    – Daniel
    Feb 10, 2017 at 9:33
  • @TeXnician I have added a small image. Maybe that helps.
    – Daniel
    Feb 10, 2017 at 9:34

3 Answers 3


The stix package provides a \dottedsquare symbol that could fit.




Not a dotted box, but a dashed box with adapted parameters. Here is a code with dashbox: I defined a \dashedph command with an optional argument (default: capital H). I also suggest a simple \colorph (colorbox place holder):

\usepackage{mathtools, amssymb}

\newcommand\dashedph[1][H]{\setlength{\fboxsep}{0pt}\setlength{\dashlength}{2.2pt}\setlength{\dashdash}{1.1pt} \dbox{\phantom{#1}}}

\newcommand\colorph[1][H]{\setlength{\fboxsep}{0.3pt}\setlength{\dashlength}{2.2pt}\setlength{\dashdash}{1.1pt} \colorbox{lightgray!40!Lavender!40!}{\phantom{#1}}}


\[ \sqrt{\dashedph} \enspace \sqrt{\colorph}\]%


enter image description here

  • +1 for not taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but staying flexible.
    – TeXnician
    Feb 10, 2017 at 10:15

A simple approach (not long tested) is to use tikz. You can adjust the vertical space to your needs by replacing A in \vphantom.

tikz box



\def\dottedbox{\tikz\node[draw=black,dotted] {\vphantom{A}};}


  • +1. If in doubt, use TikZ.
    – ScumCoder
    Jan 23, 2022 at 14:55

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