Putting a bar or a tilde over a letter in LaTeX

As you are aware, there are commands to put a bar or a tilde over a symbol in math mode in LaTeX. Sometimes, the output doesn’t come out the way some of us might expect or want.

Fortunately, there are alternative commands that do the same task differently that we can try and there are also other ways of using the same commands.

To put a tilde over a letter, we can use either \tilde or \widetilde. As for which one to use in which situation, compiling a document with the following as its part can help comparison.

$\tilde{A}$ vs $\widetilde{A}$

$\tilde{\mathcal A}$ vs $\widetilde{\mathcal A}$

$\tilde{ABC}$ vs $\widetilde{ABC}$

To put a bar over a letter, we can use either \bar or \overline. It seems that \bar is to \overline what \tilde is to \widetilde. There don’t seem to be \overtilde or \widebar.

$\bar{A}$ vs $\overline{A}$

$\bar{\mathcal A}$ vs $\overline{\mathcal A}$

$\bar{ABC}$ vs $\overline{ABC}$

Over a symbol with a subscript or superscript index, one can imagine four ways of putting a bar or tilde over it. Among the four ways, one can say that one or two of them looks right but that may depend. I can’t comment on which ones look good. You just have to try each and decide with your colleagues.

$\tilde{A_2}$ vs $\widetilde{A_2}$ vs $\tilde{A}_2$ vs $\widetilde{A}_2$

$\bar{A_2}$ vs $\overline{A_2}$ vs $\bar{A}_2$ vs $\overline{A}_2$
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