When I take the pth root, the bottom of the p comes very close to the \sqrt symbol. In the New Century Schoolbook font (which I am using), the p actually intersects the \sqrt symbol, which looks even more terrible. Is there a clean way to fix this?

\usepackage{fouriernc} % use the New Century Schoolbook font
When I write $a^{(1/p)}$ as $\sqrt[p]{a}$, the bottom of the $p$
touches the top of the root symbol, which looks ugly.
Even when the root symbol is larger, such as with
$\sqrt[p]{\frac{1}{n}}$, it still looks bad
(since the tail of the p almost hits that line).

Ugly-looking <code>\sqrt[p]{a}</code>


4 Answers 4


The amsmath package provides commands to tweak the position of the p, this example is from the amsmath documentation:

  • 1
    Thanks! Is it wise to / how can I (re-)define the \sqrt command to use these preferences automatically? Mar 22, 2012 at 23:55
  • 2
    @jamaicanworm you can redfine \sqrt using the method illustrated in best-practices-for-spacing-regarding-fractions-and-roots/ and the linked question within
    – cmhughes
    Mar 22, 2012 at 23:59
  • 1
    This seems a bit simpler: \let\oldsqrt\sqrt \def\sqrt[#1]{\oldsqrt[\leftroot{-3}\uproot{3}#1]} Are there any disadvantages of this solution compared to the LetLtxMacro one you linked to? Also, in this solution, there is a slight problem: now, if I write sqrt{a} (without the optional [] argument), it gives an error. Mar 23, 2012 at 0:05
  • 4
    don't use \def to define commands with optional arguments, use \renewcommand\sqrt[2][2]{... so the optional argument defaults to 2. Mar 23, 2012 at 7:13
  • 2
    @DavidCarlisle: As I told jamaicanworm already, it's always nice to have a picture of the result in an answer so that users can evaluate and compare answers without having to compile each one of them. Of course, you, too, will get more upvotes, which are the sole reason we're all here :)
    – doncherry
    Mar 23, 2012 at 10:07

In line with @DavidCarlisle's suggestion, I also recommend you load the amsmath package and experiment a bit with the \leftroot and \uproot options to the \sqrt macro. Since your root-symbol, p, has a longer lower-right spur and as well as a lower overall height than the \beta symbol does in the example code given in amsmath package's user guide, you may want to use a value of 3 rather than 2 to get a decently balanced formula:

$\sqrt[p]{a}$ vs.\ $\sqrt[\leftroot{-3}\uproot{3}p]{a}$

$\sqrt[p]{\tfrac{1}{n}}$ vs.\ $\sqrt[\leftroot{-3}\uproot{3}p]{\tfrac{1}{n}}$

enter image description here

Of course, what looks "right" to you will depend importantly on your preferences. Just experiment around to find out what looks best to you.


Quick and dirty answer: use superscript p in the pth root symbol, i.e. \sqrt[^p]{x}. Not elegant, but mostly good enough. This is also fast and easy if you're using something like LyX. For example: enter image description here

  • What LyX shows in the editing window is only a weak approximation to the output in the final pdf document. Jan 25, 2018 at 15:48
  • 14
    Pure filth. +1.
    – Robino
    Dec 1, 2018 at 16:16

This should be more of a comment (in reply to the OP's comment for David's answer) than answer (I can not break lines in comment).

You can define a new command \mysqrt instead of trying to meddle with the original \sqrt command.


Advantage: You can change the first two values values on the go and your old \sqrt works without the option [].

enter image description here

  • 1
    In this case I would make the first two parameters to \mysqrt optional and default to something that works for most cases, but can be tweaked if so desired. Mar 23, 2012 at 0:29
  • 1
    @jamaicanworm If you do not give values TeX will complain of a missing number that will be treated as zero. Hence you can put zero yourself to avoid that complain. and yes it works except that complaint.
    – user11232
    Mar 23, 2012 at 0:32
  • 1
    @jamaicanworm: Since there is more than one parameter that should be optional, I would use the xparse package and the solutions described at LaTeX command with optional arguments Mar 23, 2012 at 0:39
  • 1
    @jamaicanworm: That is not how to use xparse. Using \NewDocumentCommand{\mysqrt}{O{-2} O{2} O{} m}{...} will make #1 default to -2, #2 default to 2, and #3 default to {}. Hope that helps -- if not, this should really be a separate question as it might be useful to others as well. Mar 23, 2012 at 0:56
  • 1
    Version discussed in the comments here is provided at Optional arguments in \def. Mar 23, 2012 at 1:36

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