I'm currently writing my first conference paper and am trying to determine a variable naming convention. I like the approach used by Di Carlo in Dynamic Locomotion in the MIT Cheetah 3 Through Convex Model-Predictive Control:

[skipped irrelevant convention] Vectors are bold, upright, and lowercase (a,ω), matrices are bold, upright, and uppercase (A,),and scalars are lowercase and italicized (a,ω).

The conference recommends following the IEEE guidelines outlined here, which does not comment on the topic. I assume it is thus up to me as the author to decide. Is bolding variables frowned upon? Is there a alternative, preferred method? Thank you!

  • 1
    Some papers will look fine with this notational convention; others will have so much bold stuff that they look terrible. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 2:21

1 Answer 1


For textbooks and self-published material, it is very good practice to follow a convention such as that proposed by Di Carlo, which is widely accepted as the general convention in mathematics.

However, it sounds like are talking about a submission to a conference to be collated and published as conference proceedings. This would typically have a review and editing process like submissions to any peer-reviewed journal would. In this case, especially since they don't stipulate any conventions, it matters less because they will likely edit your notation where applicable so that all the submissions to the conference proceedings are consistent in notation and formatting.

  • 6
    Publisher Editing for conference proceedings? Almost not done at all - IEEE does not do this. Springer does this to a very limited degree (formatting of the title/author list and reference list), but certainly excluding the mathematical notation.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 7:25
  • Then I guess it doesn’t matter either way, does it?
    – Earlien
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 7:37
  • This is not a general convention in mathematics. Maybe in applied math, but certainly not in pure math.
    – Jo Mo
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 15:07
  • @Earlien-reinstateMonica thank you, that makes perfect sense. I didn't even consider the conference would likely modify the notation to be consistent with the other submissions. Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 16:16

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