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I'm trying to make bold symbols bolder in math mode (\boldsymbol isn't bold enough for my liking), and so far the best solution I've found is using contour. However, when contour is used within math mode, it makes the symbols lose their italic behavior. Is there a way to use contour within an equation to yield italic characters?

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\usepackage[outline]{contour}
\newcommand{\A}{\contour{black}{A}}
\begin{document}
\begin{enumerate}
\item Using math mode within contour works:
\contour{black}{$A$} $ = 1$

\item but I want to use contour within math mode:
$\contour{black}{A} = 1$

\item since I'd like to eventually define the variables as bold elsewhere in the document:
$\A = 1$
\end{enumerate}
\end{document}

Here's why \bm isn't bold enough for me: Can you tell easily which r's are bolded? enter image description here

vs using contour: enter image description here

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  • You could use $\contour{black}{$A$} = 1$ but why not use the bold math font? Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 15:25
  • I really thought I had tried that solution! This worked for me, thanks! The bold math font isn't bold enough for my liking, since it's hard to differentiate for some characters.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 15:30
  • but have pity on your readers, this is a fuzzy ugly A and really distracts the reading. Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 15:35
  • I agree it is distracting, so I may try to play with the contour length to find a sweet spot.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 15:41
  • yes can easily tell the bold r in your image: denominator r not bold; numerator r and r not in fraction bold. The second is no clearer, just uglier. Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 15:41

1 Answer 1

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enter image description here

You could use $\contour{black}{$A$} = 1$ but this produces a rather fuzzy bold, and doesn't work in supercripts without adding further complication of \mathchoice. It is generally better to use a bold font.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\usepackage[outline]{contour}
\newcommand{\A}{\contour{black}{$A$}}
\usepackage{bm}
\bmdefine\Abm{A}
\begin{document}
\begin{enumerate}
\item Using math mode within contour works:
\contour{black}{$A$} $ = 1$

\item but I want to use contour within math mode:
$\contour{black}{$A$} = 1$

\item since I'd like to eventually define the variables as bold elsewhere in the document:
$\A = 1$
\end{enumerate}

\begin{enumerate}
\item Using math mode within contour works: $\bm{A} = 1$

\item but I want to use contour within math mode:
$\bm{A} = 1$

\item since I'd like to eventually define the variables as bold elsewhere in the document:
$\Abm = 1$
\end{enumerate}
\end{document}
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  • Thanks for the elaboration David! I added an edit to my original post to show why \bm isn't bold enough for me. Maybe it's a font thing?
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 15:38

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