Is there a way to make the prime symbol of the variable align horizontally with the subscript?

If I do $R\prime_0$ the 0 is too far from the R, I want it to be the same distance as if I do $R_0$. If I try to put the prime as a superscript, the prime symbol is too small.


  • Write either $R^{\prime}_0$ or, if the prime symbol really needs to be bigger, $R^{\textstyle\prime}_0$
    – Mico
    Jan 30, 2018 at 20:42
  • Are you talking about R^\prime_0?
    – Werner
    Jan 30, 2018 at 20:43

2 Answers 2


The "prime" character was designed (by DEK) in TeX very special. The input symbol ' is set as math-active and it is defined by plain TeX (and in other formats too) like ^\prime (roughly speaking). Because superscript uses smaller font, the base prime character (printed directly by \prime) is designed somewhat bigger and it is never used in normal situations. The optimal size is only in superscript.

Why do you use complicated $R\prime_0$ instead of simple $R'_0$?

TeXbook says at page 130:

The control sequence \prime stands for the symbol (printed here), which is used mostly in superscripts. In fact this symbol is so big as it stands that you would never want to use it except in subscript or superscript, where it occurs in a smaller size.

Since single and double primes occur rather frequently, plain TeX provides a convenient abbreviation: You can simply type ' instead ^\prime and '' instead ^{\prime\prime}, and so on.

  • Unfortunately this does not answer the question. It seems better-suited as a comment.
    – Werner
    Jan 30, 2018 at 23:25
  • 1
    This is answer because it explains the background of the mistake done by OP and suggests the solution: R'_0.
    – wipet
    Jan 31, 2018 at 7:07

I suppose you want to write either R^{\prime}_0 (alias: R'_0) or R^{\textstyle\prime}_0. The latter looks ghastly, though, doesn't it?

enter image description here

$R^{\prime}_0 \quad  R'_0\quad R^{\textstyle\prime}_0$

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