$\nu_{\rm FWHM}$

prints FWHM too large. But when I try:

$\nu_{\mbox{\tiny FWHM}}$

the size is okay but the kerning looks wrong.

What is the best way to make a compact little FWHM subscript tag on my variables?


$\nu_{\textsc{\tiny fwhm}}$

\newcommand{\FWHM}{{\textsc{\tiny fwhm}}}
  • Try \scriptstyle instead of tiny.
    – azetina
    Oct 2, 2012 at 18:12
  • 1
    $\nu_{\scriptscriptstyle\rm FWHM}$ will give you the second one. Then you can squeeze them with negative space $\nu_{\scriptscriptstyle\rm F\!W\!H\!M}$
    – percusse
    Oct 2, 2012 at 18:12
  • \scriptstyle actually resulted in larger text than \tiny
    – Mike
    Oct 2, 2012 at 21:13

3 Answers 3


This will overlap with Mico's answer, but there are couple of extra points that I'd like to make.

Loading amsmath has the nice feature that text font changing commands may be used in mathematics and the text resizes appropriately in subscripts etc. The commands \textrm, \textit etc. may be used directly without having to invoke an additional \text command. Often these direct commands are to be preferred over \text, because the latter inherits the font characterisitics from the surounding text. My standard solution for such situation is to define a macro and use the \textnormal command to avoid this.






\( B_\FHWM \) vs. \( B_{\text{FHWM}} \) and
\( X_{B_\FHWM} \) vs. \( X_{B_{\text{FHWM}}} \)

 Preferring \( B_\FHWM \) to  \( B_{\text{FHWM}} \)

\textbf{\( B_\FHWM \) vs. \( B_{\text{FHWM}} \)}

Sample output

An alternative to \textnormal is \textup, which will produce upright inside italic and slanted text, but will turn bold inside bold text.

However, in your case you are putting the subscript on a small symbol \nu and the above looks too big. The small caps shape from \textsc is often designed to give the best spacing for such combinations and is a standard choice for acronyms. You need to remember to write \textsc{fwhm} instead of \textsc{FWHM} as the latter usually produces capitals of the same size as \textrm capitals. One thing to be aware of is that the standard fonts have no bold variant of \textsc, so I suggest you additionally use \textnormal to avoid surprises. Your request for a very small font is provided by the \tiny command. (My personal preference would be to omit that or to use a command from the relsize package.) Below is an example with \tiny included.




\newcommand{\FHWM}{\textnormal{\tiny \textsc{fhwm}}}


\( \nu_\FHWM \) vs. \( \nu_{\textsc{fhwm}} \) vs. \( \nu_{\text{FHWM}} \) 
\( X_{\nu_\FHWM} \) vs. \( X_{\nu_{\textsc{fhwm}}} \) vs. \( X_{\nu_{\text{FHWM}}} \)

 Preferring \( \nu_\FHWM \) to  \( \nu_{\text{FHWM}} \)

\textbf{\( \nu_\FHWM \) vs. \( \nu_{\textsc{fhwm}} \) vs. \( \nu_{\text{FHWM}} \)}

Sample with textsc and tiny

The bold cases in the above examples are there just to illustrate pitfalls. If you really intend to use this in such contexts, then you need to think about what fonts you wish to appear and build the commands appropriately.

  • All I had to do was \usepackage{amsmath} and everything worked! Thanks! Apr 19, 2015 at 23:36
  • I tried \textsc{\tiny ...} with both \odot and \bigodot It compiles fine with \odot, but I get an error message with \bigodot. Why is that?
    – Andyc
    May 30, 2021 at 16:49
  • @Andyc I would expect neither to work as they are math mode commands, not text. May 31, 2021 at 8:46

You may want to load the amsmath package to access its \text macro and type (in math mode, obviously):


Don't use the \rm command in a LaTeX document.

Addendum -- @AndrewSwann has pointed out that FHWM, being an acronym, should be typeset in small-caps letters, i.e., as \textsc{fhwm}. Defining the acronym command \FHWM with \newcommand\FHWM{\textsc{fhwm}}, the following possibilities arise for typesetting the acronym as a subscript to \nu:

$\nu_{\text{FWHM}}$ % regular caps, subscript in "scriptsize" font size

$\nu_\FHWM$         % small caps, subscript in "scriptsize" font size

$\nu_{\text{\tiny\FHWM}} $  %  small caps, subscript in "tiny" font size

enter image description here

  • 2
    I second the use of amsmath, but in this case would suggest \( \nu_{\textsc{fwhm}} \) with amsmath loaded. Oct 2, 2012 at 18:26
  • 1
    @AndrewSwann: I have no idea what FHWM may stand for. If it's an acronym, it would certainly be a good idea for the OP to set up a command such as \newcommand\FHWM{\textsc{fhwm}} in the preamble and then to use this macro throughout the document -- including in $\nu_{\text{\FHWM}}$.
    – Mico
    Oct 2, 2012 at 18:43
  • 1
    FWHM is acronym for Full Width Half Maximum. It is used to measure the spread of a Gaussian beam (like laser beam).
    – mythealias
    Oct 2, 2012 at 19:53
  • @mythealias: thanks for providing this confirmation. Since it's an acronym that is (probably) used repeatedly in your paper, it's definitely worth implementing Andrew Swann's suggestion.
    – Mico
    Oct 2, 2012 at 20:05
  • @AndrewSwann amsmath did the trick. \textsc{\tiny fwhm} Is the final solution. Using lower case fwhm makes all the difference compared with \textsc{\tiny FWHM} or any other combination. Post an answer and I'll accept.
    – Mike
    Oct 2, 2012 at 21:28

You might try scalebox.



$M_{\scalebox{.9}{$\psi_{\text{\tiny X}}\psi_{Y}$}}$


Note the \tiny before $X$ and that it makes X slightly smaller than Y. This gives two degrees of control-ability, both in the scalebox size and in the usage of text size modifiers.

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