# [OS X TeX] Improper alphabetic constant

Herbert Schulz herbs at wideopenwest.com
Fri Dec 18 13:45:12 EST 2020

> On Dec 18, 2020, at 12:04 PM, Alain Schremmer <schremmer.alain at freemathtexts.org> wrote:
>
>
>
>> On Dec 18, 2020, at 8:08 AM, Herbert Schulz <herbs at wideopenwest.com> wrote:
>>
>>> On Dec 18, 2020, at 1:48 AM, Alain Schremmer <schremmer.alain at freemathtexts.org> wrote:
>
>>> $\xrightarrow{5}$ and \boldsymbol{$5$} both compile but \boldsymbol{$\xrightarrow{5}$} does not.
>>>
>>> The error is:
>>>
>>> 2.tex:1309: Improper alphabetic constant.
>>>                   \reserved at d
>>> l.1309 \boldsymbol{$\xrightarrow{5}$}
>>>
>>> Any way around it?
>
>> Howdy,
>
>> Are you sure \boldsymbol{$5$} compiles? I believe the \boldsymbol needs to be in math mode so $\boldsymbol{5}$ and $\boldsymbol{\xrightarrow{5}}$ work fine.
>
> 	Both $\boldsymbol{5}$ and \boldsymbol{$\rightarrow$} compile which is one more thing I don’t get---but which does not make me lose any sleep.
>
> 	But $\boldsymbol{\xrightarrow{5}}$ definitely produces the error I mentioned. At least for me.
>
> 	On the other hand, I just found out that $\pmb{\xrightarrow{5}}$ does work. So, I am ok.

Howdy,

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seems to work fine.

>
>
>> As a side note you should get used to $$...$$ instead of $...$ for inline math (and $...$ instead of $$...$$ if you use that for display math).
>
> When I was writing some of my stuff on the web, I did but didn’t like it so stopped using them as soon as I stopped writing web pages.
>
> But, I am curious, are there other reasons?
>
> Best
> —s

They are macros that default to $...$ and $$...$$ but packages like amsmath can change things like spacing.

Good Luck,

Herb Schulz
herbs at wideopenwest.com