Empty set symbol 

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Oddly enough, I'm having trouble finding a way to display a empty set symbol that works on Internet Explorer (7 included).

The symbol doesn't display correctly. It shows up as a square. Converting it to its HTML entity ∅ or its hex equivalent ∅ doesn't solve the problem.

Empty Set Symbol shows up as a Square in IE

So, I set out to discover how maths websites display this symbol, and apparently most of them use inline images (sigh).

or the alternate notation {}.

The few website that actually display the actual symbol use the Danish and Norwegian letter capital o slash [Ø] that translates into Ø. Although it is semantically different from the empty the symbol per se, and depending on the font used it is not circular but oval shaped, it does the trick. All browsers I've tested render it correctly.

Time to get pragmatic, and launched that search & replace.

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Comments and responses

  • 13 May 2011


    Argh! I NEED that empty set symbol, and I use the Ø for other purposes (like writing words in Norwegian).
    Where did it go?

  • 06 Oct 2011

    What an interesting post, and approach! Priscila Luken

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