StATS: Placing the symbol X-bar in a document (April 17, 2006)

Someone asked me how to place the symbol X-bar into a word processing document. This is tricky to do because there is nothing in the Symbol font that works and most word processing software allows for underlines but not overlines. I use a product called MathType, but it might be too expensive for someone who only needs an occasional symbol or formula here and there. For the more casual user, there are several solutions:

First, you can create a graphic image like this one: and insert it in the text anytime you need that symbol. It's a bit tricky because you need to get the size and location just perfect and that is easier said than done. Part of the problem is that this graphic image has a few pixels around the border. You can see this more clearly when I use a gray background: . If you examine this image closely, there are 25 pixels in height and there are three extra lines of pixels at the bottom and five extra lines of pixels at the top. I do seem to get better alignment if I remove most of the pixel border and used a smaller image, as I did here: . This image is 13 pixels tall and seems to fit in better. The problem, of course, is that if I change the font, what worked well for the original font would now work poorly.

Second, you can use equation editor software that is available with some word processing software. The word processors produced by Microsoft and by will allow you to create an X-bar fairly easily. Alignment is still a tricky issue.

Third, you could rewrite your paper so as to avoid the use of the X-bar symbol entirely. This is the coward's way out, I realize, but how often is it really critical to use this particular symbol?

This page was written by Steve Simon while working at Children's Mercy Hospital. Although I do not hold the copyright for this material, I am reproducing it here as a service, as it is no longer available on the Children's Mercy Hospital website. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: Teaching resources.