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In work that I write, I frequently have a big mathematical block that uses a lot of single-letter symbols. This is fine, and in fact the standard for the specific sub-field in question. My issue (it's not really an issue, but something that bugs me) is that in the normal text sections of the work I frequently mention some of these symbols. These are written so that they match the presentation of them in the mathematical block, which in practice means that I end up wrapping every mention of the symbol in an inline maths block. E.g. from something I'm currently writing:

At step \(k > 1\), ... \(b\) objects are removed, ... replaced with new \(b\) objects ... adding one further \(m\) object to \(M\).

In the instance above, the k > 1 should be inside an inline maths section in order to typeset it correctly, but it always feels a bit wrong to me to wrap all the single symbol references like \(b\) and \(M\) in an inline maths block, as that doesn't really seem like what maths mode is for.

Is there a recommend alternative way to get the same typesetting, without actually switching into math mode? I'm aware of the \textit command, but I'm not sure if that will always produce the same results as using maths mode - I imagine there might be some document class out there that will end making the two have different typesetting. Or should I simply use maths mode and not worry about it?

I couldn't find any guidance when I searched on this topic, though I may just not have searched on the correct terms. I'm currently using pdfLatex, so I assume that's Latex2e (I'm actually using the default in Overleaf), but I'm hoping that there's a fairly general answer to this.

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    there is no better alternative for math node. however, you can define new commands for set of variables and frequently used math expressions. – Zarko Apr 11 at 23:26
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    @Zarko Would you be willing to write up what you mean as an answer, please? Or if there's already such an answer, could you please link to it? – Jarak Apr 11 at 23:37
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    you can use $b$ instead of \(b\) which is the same thing and saves two keystrokes. \textit{b} selects a different font altogether. – David Carlisle Apr 11 at 23:53
  • The first expression could/should be typeset as $k > 1,\dots b$. – marmot Apr 12 at 0:06
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    @JouleV using math mode for single letters is correct usage (and there are numerous examples of this in the texbook and latexbook) – David Carlisle Apr 12 at 7:42
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You can use $b$ instead of \(b\) which is the same thing and saves two keystrokes. \textit{b} selects a different font altogether.

Using math mode for single letters is correct usage (and there are numerous examples of this in the TeXbook and LaTeX book) For example this is a small quotation from the source of the TeXBook:

the natural height~$x$ and the desired height~$w$, and based on the amounts of stretchability and shrinkability that happen to be present.

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