I found that some groups of letters in math mode have strange spaces: $\Delta XYZ$, $\Delta WZU$ looks bad, but some others like $\Delta STU$ look fine:

Strange spaces

I found that this is not a problem of italics:

enter image description here

I tried it in pdfLaTeX, LuaLaTeX, XeLaTeX and also Overleaf - the result is still the same. How can be this "unnatural" space removed?

  • 2
    Welcome to tex.sx. I can't tell you how to remove any spaces, at least not automatically, but I can tell you why they're there. In math, each italic letter is expected to represent a variable; a sequence of letters is assumed to not be a word. TeX sets spacing based on only a few dimensions: width from leftmost point to rightmost baseline point. If there is a point on the letter to the right of the rightmost baseline point, the distance between them is the "italic correction", In math, the italic correction is always added in. (cont'd) Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 1:59
  • 2
    (cont'd) So uppercase letters, whose shapes are most extreme at the top and bottom, are most often subject to the addition of an "obvious" italic correction, which is the source of the uneven spacing you are seeing. (For example, X and Z have their leftmost point at the bottom, while the leftmost point of Y is at the top. So YX or YZ would be "spaced out", while ZY would appear to be closer together.) Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 2:03
  • You can use \mathit{WZU} etc., to get something like more like normal "word" spacing.
    – frabjous
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 4:07
  • the space is not added by tex, math fonts typically have wider side bearings so adjacent letters do not look like a word. you have not shown which font you are using. Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 7:38

1 Answer 1


As explained in the comments, the spacing of individual capital letters in mathmode is not intended for uses where the letters are combined to make a single "word". For example, if your intention is to refer to the triangle whose vertices are X, Y and Z, then you should use $\triangle\mathit{XYZ}$, not $\triangle XYZ$.

Compare: enter image description here

For convenience, you could put this into a macro, especially if you plan to use it a lot:

enter image description here




Consider $\tri{XYZ}$ and $\tri{ABC}$.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .