It seems unintuitive to me to use italic text in theorem and lemma text styles, because some mathematical symbols (letters) are almost identical to regular italicised letters.

Consider the following example (text sourced from this website). I got the wonderful newtheoremstyle solution from this SE thread, from a user named Mico. Thank you, Mico!



{}                % Space above
{}                % Space below
{\slshape}        % Theorem body font % (default is "\upshape")
{}                % Indent amount
{\bfseries}       % Theorem head font % (default is \mdseries)
{.}               % Punctuation after theorem head % default: no punctuation
{ }               % Space after theorem head
{}                % Theorem head spec



Given two line segments whose lengths are $a$ and $b$ respectively there is a 
real number $r$ such that $b=ra$.


Given two line segments whose lengths are $a$ and $b$ respectively there is a 
real number $r$ such that $b=ra$.

\huge{\textbf{Which one looks better to \emph{you}?}}


enter image description here

Now, I can see how this question could get flagged as "primarily opinion-based", so let me rephrase my question as objectively as possible: Is there any rational reason to use italic style instead of slanted in theorem texts, considering that italicised text and math text look more alike (and are, at least for me, harder to distinguish and read) than slanted text and math text?

Thank you for your answers in advance and God bless.

  • To answer the question in the image, undisputagly, the italic shape… – Bernard Jul 29 at 7:55
  • 2
    @egreg I noticed that people often call \slshape ugly on this SE. While it's not the prettiest of styles, I don't see it as particularly ugly. Even if \itshape were objectively prettier, I think that the visual trade-off is worth it, as it is easier to distinguish math symbols from text when using \slshape. Not to mention the danger of confusing indefinite article 'a' with some math symbol a. – Gregor Perčič Jul 29 at 8:03
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    @egreg While I do like slanted type better, this is not my primary concern. As I've said, the foremost reason to switch is, in my opinion, the confusion the italic style produces with its proximate similarity to letters in math mode, hence the potential confusion of the indefinite article 'a' with a math symbol a, as I've pointed out. I don't know, I just think that it would be easier to read. – Gregor Perčič Jul 29 at 8:18
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    I'm a font agnostic for the most part, and I must confess that I can't get too excited by this discussion. For all serif fonts I'm familiar with which provide both slanted-italic ("italic") and slanted-roman ("slanted") font faces, the only truly-meaningful differences pertain to just three lowercase letters: a, e, and f. (For most sans-serif fonts, what's commonly called "italic" should actually be called "slanted".) FWIW, the TeXbook uses slanted-roman, not italics, for emphasis, and this feature has certainly never either excited or bothered me. – Mico Jul 29 at 9:13
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    Basically, this is a matter of history and tradition. Although I rather like slanted roman for various reasons, this seems to me to be a matter of opinion, and therefore off topic. But Knuth did recognize the ambiguity of single math letters like "a" -- Computer Modern has a different font for math, which is wider than the CM text italic. This is a distinction not generally supported by other font families now used for math. – barbara beeton Jul 29 at 15:19

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