Adjusting maths font sizes

In Plain TeX, when you introduce a new font size you must also declare what size fonts are to be used in mathematics with it. This is done by declaring \textfont, \scriptfont and \scriptscriptfont for the maths families you’re using; all such things are described in chapter 17 of the TeXbook and in other books and tutorials that discuss Plain TeX in sufficient detail.

In LaTeX, of course, all this stuff is automated: there is a scheme that, for each (text) font size, determines what maths font sizes are to be used. The scheme first checks a set of “known” text sizes, for each of which maths sizes are declared in advance. If the text size isn’t “known”, the script- and scriptscriptfont sizes are calculated as fixed ratios of the tex font size. (The values used are \defaultscriptratio=0.7, and \defaultscriptscriptratio=0.5.)

The fixed-ratio formula is capable of producing inconvenient results (particularly if you are using fonts which LaTeX believes are only available in a fixed set of sizes). You may also want to replace LaTeX’s ideas altogether, for example by setting maths noticeably larger or smaller than its surrounding text. For this purpose, the LaTeX command \DeclareMathSizes{<tfs>}{<ts>}{<ss>}{<sss>} may be used (this is the same command that LaTeX itself uses to define its own set of sizes). This establishes (or re-establishes) the maths font sizes to be used when the surrounding text font size is <tfs>; (<ts> being the size used for \textfont, <ss> for \scriptfont and <sss> for \scriptscriptfont).

For example, you might want to use a font with a smaller body height than Computer Modern, but still prefer CM math to any of the alternatives. In this case, you might use:

\DeclareMathSizes{10}{9}{7}{5}

to get 9pt maths when the surrounding body text is (nominal) 10pt.

\DeclareMathSizes may only be used in the preamble of the document: only one association is available for each text font size for the whole document. The default settings are specified in fontdef.dtx in the latex distribution, and are compiled into fontmath.ltx; the arguments to the command are just numbers (‘pt’ is assumed), but some of them are written using LaTeX abbreviations for standard font sizes. Beware simply copying (parts of) the LaTeX definitions — since they contain those internal abbreviations, they need to be treated as internal commands.

fontdef.dtx
macros/latex/base/fontdef.dtx
fontmath.ltx
macros/latex/unpacked/fontmath.ltx

This answer last edited: 2011-06-01

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