Actuaries denote various quantities of life contingencies like present values of life insurances and life annuities, annual premiums, or reserves using a whole array of symbols. The highly descriptive, yet compact, notation is subject of an international standard since 1898.

Actuarial notation is characterized by auxiliary symbols positioned in subscript and superscript on both sides of a principal symbol, something notoriously difficult to achieve consistently in LaTeX. It also requires some unusual symbols not found in standard mathematics packages, like the angle denoting a duration in insurance and annuity symbols.

actuarialsymbol and actuarialangle are two LaTeX packages providing facilities to compose actuarial symbols of life contingencies and financial mathematics. The packages are actively maintained, widely available through the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN) and part of TeX Live and MiKTeX.


Many authors use ad hoc constructions like {}_tA_x to put subscripts and superscripts in front of a symbol. This notation is obviously a nightmare to parse mentally and the source code has little relationship to the actual significance of the symbol. However, the worst drawback to this approach is probably that there is no way to ensure that subscripts and superscripts on either side of the principal symbol are aligned. Try something like {}_tA_x^{(m)}, for example.

Package mathtools provides a command \prescript to put a subscript or superscript on the left of an argument. This works well when the argument (or principal symbol) has sub- and superscripts on all four corners, but otherwise the auxiliary symbols may end up at different heights.

Finally, various packages tailored for specific disciplines offer the possibility to position sub and superscripts on the left, for example tensor for tensors or mhchem for isotopes.




Sneak peek

The excerpt from the package documentation below lists the shortcut for life table, insurance and annuity symbols.

Source code

The source code of actuarialangle and actuarialsymbol is hosted on GitHub. You may file bug reports, comments or feature requests there.

Both packages are licensed under the LaTeX Project Public License.


David Beauchemin (davebulaval) and Vincent Goulet (vigou3), École d’actuariat, Université Laval.