What are the various alternatives to typeset acronyms that contain lowercase letters, lowercase letters and numbers?

For example, take the acronym SOA4All. The naive way would be to typeset it just like that:


This is not really nice, of couse. A next step is to introduce small caps:

{\scshape soa}4{\scshape a}ll

Slightly better, but the number doesn't blend in all the well. We could add old-style numerals:

{\scshape soa}\oldstylenums4{\scshape a}ll

This is kind-of OK, but the 4 is really low now, and the small ls still stick out.
Here they are all together:

enter image description here

Which alternatives do you see and what would you recommend?

  • Welcome to TeX.sx! I have edited your question to add the picture directly, as you can't do that yet. – ienissei Jun 28 '12 at 15:00
  • How many such acronyms do you have? If it is just this one, I would go for the first form because the lowercase "l" has such an important height. Otherwise, I would probably suggest the variant with old-style numerals, as it is the more consistent one if you have many different acronyms (even though it may not look best with this particular one) – but it is a matter of personal preference. – ienissei Jun 28 '12 at 15:04
  • In my view, the presence of lowercase letters precludes the use of smallcaps. Smallcaps are nice when you have an all-caps word, and I could accept them if it were "SOA4all". As for mixing smallcaps and numbers, if you can't get true "smallcaps" numbers, I'd prefer just resizing everything down. – Jellby Jun 28 '12 at 16:38
  • @ienissei: The type of texts I write contains a lot of acronyms. So it's indeed a matter of consistency as well. For example, the acronym "SOA" would also occur, so if I go for small caps there, "SOA4All" should at least start with small caps. – Ruben Verborgh Jun 29 '12 at 6:43
  • @Jellby: How would you resize everything down? – Ruben Verborgh Jun 29 '12 at 6:44

Whether or not you choose old-style numbers, my suggestion would be to add a bit of kerning around the 4 so as to make the acronym look a bit less crammed. Something smaller than a \thinspace (which is 3/18em):





(Perhaps it could be even a bit less)

enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • A bit of kerning helps indeed, it makes the acronym breathe a little. – Ruben Verborgh Jun 29 '12 at 6:37

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