Obviously, I can use X^s or X_s to put a symbol s as superscript (X^s) or subscript (X_s) in front of another symbol X.

What about the case with s at the back of X? _s X or ^s X gives something like what I mean ($_s X$ and $^s X$) but they don't seem very nice as there is a space between symbols.

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    Try $X_s$ $X^s$ $\vphantom{X}_sX$ $\vphantom{X}^s\!X$. – user121799 May 30 '18 at 3:40
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    what you call back and front I would actually call the other way around – Ivo Beckers May 30 '18 at 13:34
  • @IvoBeckers: Agree. How about before (prefix) and after (postfix). And let's ignore back and front altogether. I was going to mention suffix but that's another can of worms. – Nigel Touch May 30 '18 at 17:47

If all you need to do is place an occasional prefix sub- or superscript, you could simply write

${}_s S$ and ${}^t T$

to generate

enter image description here

If your typesetting needs are a bit more demanding, you could make use of the tensor package. The preceding screenshot could also have been generated by

$\tensor[_s]{S}{}$ and $\tensor[^t]U{}$

The package's \tensor and \tensor* macros are very versatile indeed. Do have a look at the package's user guide for an in-depth review of what these macros can do.

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