[Tex/LaTex] Strutting around: What’s the difference between \strut, \mathstrut and \vphantom


What's the difference between \strut, \mathstrut and \vphantom? When would I prefer one of them to the others, and why?

Best Answer

Each are defined as follows in the default document classes (article, book and report):



with \strutbox defined as




Using \mathstrut would be equivalent to using \vphantom(, with \strut sets a zero-width rule (\@width\z@) with depth .3\baselineskip (\@depth.3\baselineskip) and height .7\baselineskip (\@height.7\baselineskip). Note that the latter is font-dependent, since it uses \baselineskip. That is, it is modified with font change selections using \fontsize{..}{..}\selectfont, including the use font switches like \small, \large, etc.

I would use \strut within text or math, and use \vphantom if there is anything else I want a specific height of without the horizontal displacement. For example, when breaking two lines of math with different heights but still wanting to use extensible delimiters \left and \right. \mathstrut is specific to the size of ( and (quoting barbarabeeton), "\mathstrut is often better in math than \strut. Which one is better depends on the local context."

Loading the amsmath redefines these boxes somewhat, although their interpretation remains the same.