Today I got an upvote for my answer to

Rotated $\ltimes$ symbol

which has since been closed as duplicate of

How to look up a symbol or identify a math symbol or character?

Looking at the question it is apparent that looking up for a symbol is unsuccessful. One finds similar symbols only with MnSymbol or mathdesign. Using the latter package forces a global change of fonts, using the former changes all the math symbols and exposes to the infamous “Too many math alphabets” error. More than that, only two out of three symbols are available, even if one chooses one of these ways for solving the problem.

Closing as duplicate of How to look up a symbol or identify a math symbol or character? should be reserved to cases where the method is effective, not when the symbol doesn't exist or exists only “partially” (requiring `MnSymbol' or other packages that cannot generally be used in a document). In some cases, the question might more sensibly be a duplicate of Importing a Single Symbol From a Different Font; the question I'm referring to isn't.


It happened again. The requested symbol is available only with MnSymbol and this is NOT (yes, I'm shouting) a solution.

\nearrow and \swarrow together

We CANNOT close a question as duplicate of “How to look up a symbol” if the symbol is NOT available.

  • 3
    Agreed. I've been guilty of hastily voting to close this type of question before (though it wasn't me this time). I have voted to reopen. Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 12:31
  • 2
    How can I use a symbol provided by a package without changing the entire mathematics font? and the links in the comments and answers could be helpful, too.
    – Stephen
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 19:22
  • 1
    This same thing, more or less, happened with the hand-wave question, too, and it didn't seem to be all that useful, as no such symbol exists. That was my motivation for asking about the possibility of reopening it.
    – Adam Liter
    Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 5:02
  • Well, I have several time tried to focus on this problem: There are some ‘police officers’ that are very keen on closing what they claim are duplicates.
    – Sveinung
    Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 15:37
  • bravo for the update. if i could upvote it again, i would, but the system doesn't allow that. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 22:22
  • Why is a symbol from MnSymbol not a solution? You can import it as a single symbol...
    – Werner Mod
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 22:28
  • @Werner No; the shapes usually don't match. Arrows, in particular.
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 22:29
  • @Werner -- if the shapes of the arrowheads aren't compatible with those of other arrows already being used (this is unlikely to be used in total isolation), then more than one symbol has to be changed, and that's often not a viable alternative. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 22:30
  • This is another instance of jet-speed reviewing. I stopped mentioning it. We have too many referees compared to players lately.
    – percusse
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 10:10
  • I don't think it is as serious as e.g. on SO. However, maybe this situation calls for considering test reviews in the future, if this becomes a regular thing.
    – yo'
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 11:27

1 Answer 1


The general issue here is of course that duplicates are meant to be based on questions, rather than answers, and once you decide to have a generic 'look up a symbol' question then there is an apparent logic in saying that all questions about looking up a symbol are dupes. However, it's clear that this is not very helpful to the user, which is the point of the site, and moreover most of the questions involved start out not as 'how to look up a symbol' but 'how to create/use a symbol', a subtly different thing. As such, and as the question here implies, duping to one of the generic questions makes sense only if the answer(s) given will help in the case you are looking at.

In practical terms, some people will vote to close even with this consideration. Thus the realistic position is that a suitable comment ('This is not a dupe because ...') and a readiness to vote to reopen is required for this type of case.

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