The information given below is adapted from the American Physics Society web site (by Prof. Terry A. Miller and Dr. Sergey I. Panov, from whom we have stolen it!). It contains the information needed to produce many, if not most, of the special symbols used in spectroscopy; however, it is by no means all inclusive.

LaTeX Commands for Selected Special Symbols

Greek letters and most mathematical symbols must be identified descriptively in an electronic submission. Here is a list of some of the most commonly used symbols. These commands must all be given in LaTeX's "math" mode, i.e., between dollar signs ($); see the LaTeX user manual for additional information about math mode.

Greek letters:

To obtain a Greek letter in your abstract, type a backslash (\) followed by the name of the letter.

Lower-case Greek letters. Note omicron is simply lower-case "o".

     α: \alpha    η: \eta     ν: \nu       τ: \tau
     β: \beta     θ: \theta   ξ: \xi       υ: \upsilon
     γ: \gamma    ι: \iota    ο: o         φ: \phi
     δ: \delta    κ: \kappa   π: \pi       χ: \chi
     ε: \epsilon  λ: \lambda  ρ: \rho      ψ: \psi
     ζ: \zeta     μ: \mu      σ: \sigma    ω: \omega

Upper-case Greek letters.

     Γ: \Gamma    Λ: \Lambda  Σ: \Sigma    Ψ: \Psi
     Δ: \Delta    Ξ: \Xi      Υ: \Upsilon  Ω: \Omega
     Θ: \Theta    Π: \Pi      Φ: \Phi

Characters from national alphabets:

Special characters in German, French, Scandinavian languages, Slavonic languages,... are represented by \-constructions. Examples are:
     ä : \"a        ü : \"u        ö : \"o
     Ä : \"A        Ü : \"U        Ö : \"O
     ß : {\ss}
In general, to put an umlaut above a letter, put \" in front of the letter.

     é : \´e        è : \`e        ô : \^o
     ç : {\c c}

In general, to put an accent aigu above a letter, write \´ in front of it. To put an accent grave above a letter, write \` in front of it. To put a circonflexe above a letter, write \^ in front of it. To put a cedille underneath a letter, write \c in front of it as shown.

     æ  : {\ae}     ø : {\o}       å : {\aa}
     Æ  : {\AE}     Ø : {\O}       Å : {\AA}

In general, to put a haček above a letter, write \v in front of it.

     Š   : {\v S}     š : {\v s}       Č : {\v C}
     ž   : {\v z}     Ř : {\v R}       ĕ : {\v e}

At least to a non-Slavonic person, a čarka is the same as a French accent aigu, and so you can make them as described above.

Superscripts and Subscripts

Superscripts are indicated by a caret (shift-6): ^{SCRIPT}, e.g., $\pi r^{2}$. The example shown here is the formula for the area of a circle, πr2. LaTeX math mode (necessary for equations and super- and subscripts) is specified with the dollar signs; the lower case π (\pi) and radius variable r have a space between them in the markup (it would not appear in the output), and the superscript 2 is the "argument" (enclosed in curly braces) to the superscript operator ^.

Subscripts are indicated by an underscore: _{SCRIPT}, e.g., $J_{12}$ is J12.

The abbreviation for Ångströms (Å) is \AA.

Circular degrees can be specified with \deg, e.g., $45\deg$ is 45°.

We have also defined three special commands for symbols often encountered in conference abstracts.

\wn     wavenumbers       \newcommand{\wn}{\ensuremath{\mathrm{cm}^{-1}}}
\nub{}  vibrational level \newcommand{\nub}[1]{\ensuremath{\nu_{#1}}}
\chem{} chemical formula  \newcommand{\chem}[1]{}\ensuremath{mathrm{#1}}

Use as follows:

19800\wn                       19800 cm-1
\nub{1} and \nub{3} levels     ν1 and ν3 levels
\chem{CH-4}                    CH4

Complete charts of symbols and markup names available in LaTeX are given at the end of the LaTeX Command Summary, which can be retrieved via anonymous FTP from or from The Command Summary must be processed with LaTeX and printed in order to be useful.

Problems To Be Aware Of, So That You Can Avoid Them

For the most part, automatic abstract processing is very successful. However, here is a list of some of the problems that sometimes occur, but can be easily avoided.

     1. Word processors cause the largest share of troubles. If you
        use Word, WordPerfect, or another word processor, please be sure to
        save the file as an ASCII file (plain text, DOS text, etc.)

     2. Some punctuation marks are special characters to LaTeX, and you
        must put a backslash (\) in front of them so the proper mark is
        placed in the text.  You should specify them like so:

        \&       \$       \{     \}
        \%       \#       \_    

     3. Make sure you use only upper case in the title and author
        names, except for special cases, e.g., He, Al, McDONALD, the
	conjunction "and" before the the last author in a series,
	etc. Your abstract will be checked and automatically rejected
	for failure to observe this convention.

     4. Be careful not to add extra "{" or "}".  Keep them in pairs.

     5. Please note that some lines in the template are not to be removed,
        edited, commented out, or otherwise trifled with. Please
	follow the associated instructions.

Thank you for your cooperation, and good luck!

A LaTeX-2e style file and sample abstracts are provided here:

  praha.sty            Download praha.sty file
  SampleAbstr.html     View sample abstracts

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