I'm creating a rather large document/thesis/book that will contain a lot of math. I'm having problems getting a consistent set of math fonts or notation for different types of variables. Specifically, I have scalar variables, vectors, matrices, and tensors that I would like to all look different.

I had sort of settled on the following:

  1. scalar - 'regular' italicized
  2. vector - same as scalar, but with an arrow (latex \vec)
  3. matrix - bold (preferably upright as well)
  4. tensor - preferably blackboard font, but also maybe the same as a matrix

That's all well and good, except my field uses many Greek letters, both lower and uppercase. In addition, after writing a long section with latex's \vec, it looks ugly and crowded, particularly when combined with superscripts. Most documents I've seen fudge many of them together.

So any mathematicians/latexticians have opinions on getting a consistent notation for a large document? As a side note, I'm currently using kpfonts, and would like to keep that (or Palatino) for the main text.

  • 1
    I would avoid decorated letters as much as possible, don't get complicated unless you absolutely need to. I personally would go with capitals for matrices, lower case bold for vectors, lower case non-bold (italic whatever) for scalars and eucal/mathbb for tensors. Or some other visually simple scheme as suggested below.
    – Scott H.
    Jun 21, 2012 at 6:42
  • 1
    @ScottH. I wish I could, but my field already has a large body of work that has mixed convention. g tensor, A tensor, sigma tensor, \mu vector, I vector, r vector, etc. Agree about the decorated letters, though. That was awful except for the most simple equations. Jun 21, 2012 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


isomath defines \vectorsym, \matrixsym and \tensorsym to typeset vectors, matrices and tensors in an ISO-conformant way. It also loads fixmath to provide correct typesetting for the greek alphabet.

  • Thanks, I didn't know about isomath. I've been trying it and it seems to get some sort of coherent notation. Jun 22, 2012 at 16:39

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