Superimpose symbols in LaTeX, plus a cartoon about fortune cookies.

This post is just a reminder to me of how my colleague Aidan Heerdegen solved a LaTeX problem for me that was bugging me relentlessly.  For those for whom this is utterly irrelevant, which will be everybody except me, I have stuck a comic at the end of this post. I suggest you go there directly…

If not…

They’ll tell you you can use \llap and \rlap.  But one man knows the truth, one man knows that what you need to do is this (meddle with the kerning):

(in preamble)

\newcommand{\stupidsymbol}{\ensuremath{\mathsf{X}}\kern-0.48em{\ensuremath{\mathsf{I}}}}

(in body)

\stupidsymbol

“Why?” I hear you cry in strangulated tones.  Well, I have a graph a student made in Excel.  It uses a symbol that looks like this:

cross

Which is to say it looks like an X with an I through the middle (san serif of course).  I need to refer to this in a LaTeX document and could not for the life of me figure out a nice way to do it that would work inside a figure caption.  I figured out a messy way, but Aidan has figured out a neat way and I don’t want to forget it.

The messy way, by the way, is to use the optional table of contents entry in the \caption[]{} environment so that it does not try to put the special symbols into the ToC.  Then you can use something like:

\mbox{\ooalign{$\mathsf{X}$\cr\hidewidth$\mathsf{I}$\hidewidth\cr}}

Now the comic:

fortunecookie_2_wp

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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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