siunitx: Getting the micro symbol right

I get a few e-mails about siunitx and the micro symbol. People tend to be surprised that the symbol ‘sticks’ to a look very much like Computer Modern. The reason is that picking a proper upright (not italic) μ is not so easy in TeX. You don’t get one in Computer Modern, so siunitx takes one from the TS1 (text support) set in the absence of a better plan. I’ve set up some auto-detection for a few obvious alternatives (such as the upgreek package), but that doesn’t really work for XeTeX users.

XeTeX users are likely to load system fonts, and I’d hope be using UTF-8 input. That makes it hard to auto-detect what they are doing, but should make life easier for them to get things right. A lot of more comprehensive fonts include Greek letters in the main font, so getting the μ right is simple:

\sisetup{
  mathsmu = \text{μ},
  textmu  = μ
}

or for people testing version 2 of siunitx:

\sisetup{
  maths-micro = \text{μ},
  text-micro  = μ
}

There may be a bit of testing required: this will not work if, for example, you are using the Latin Modern font.

2 thoughts on “siunitx: Getting the micro symbol right

  1. You know, I was just wondering why there’s no cmmu*.mf on CTAN, a simple modification of cmmi*.mf. Though of course the resulting bitmap fonts look bad in PDFs (as a hack you can use mftrace).

  2. If you are using XeTeX and Latin Modern, try using:

    µ
    MICRO SIGN
    Unicode: U+00B5, UTF-8: C2 B5

    and not:

    μ
    GREEK SMALL LETTER MU
    Unicode: U+03BC, UTF-8: CE BC

    Using the former works for me, the latter does not.

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