[texhax] \over

Robin Fairbairns Robin.Fairbairns at cl.cam.ac.uk
Sun Oct 26 09:10:24 CET 2003

>     I have been using \over to represent fractions in my LaTeX documents. I
> have been finding that LaTeX is reducing the font size of the numerator and
> denominator. I am guessing it does this, so that it does not need two lines
> for something like a = b/c. Is there a way to turn this off? That is, I want
> the font size of b and c to be the same as the font size of a.
>     I hope my question is clear and I thank the group for the many fine
> responses  I have received from my previous posts.

it is clear, but you're labouring under a misapprehension.  \over is
nothing to do with latex -- it's one of knuth's few attempts to make
life "easy for the user".  sadly, it has hideous consequences for the
way tex works, and is why maths coding is so horrible.

(rant over.)

tex enters a sort of "squashed" mode when you enter a fraction.  (the
same is visible when you use the latex \frac command.)  however, if
you're in a maths display this doesn't directly affect the
appearance of letters and symbols.  if you're in in-line maths, the
letters and symbols in the fraction are compressed to avoid the nasty
effects of large interline spacing.  so (as you've already been told)
you need to pretend that your maths is in display mode.

which comes back to what you've already been told

  $ \displaystyle { a \over b } $

in this, the braces aren't delimiting an argument of \display style,
merely limiting the effect of \over.  try

  $ \displaystyle a \over b $

to to see the reason the braces are necessary.

as has already been remarked, you can get satisfying text-mode
fractions in amsmath; however, if you use amsmath, you'll find \over
has been suppressed altogether ... amsmath needs to know what's going
on inside its formulae, and \over would slip behind its back if not

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