# Canonical way to typeset spacing in abbreviations

In a comment to When one should use spacing line \quad or \, Herbert claims that e.\,g. is the canonical way to typeset spacing in abbreviations (this is not about spacing before or after abbreviations). I take this to be the claim that

after every . in an abbreviation that is not the end of it there should be a \,

I've never noticed this technique before (I guess that what I've only seen before is simply to typeset "e.g." as e.g.). Is this really the canonical way? What is the recommended way to handle spacing in abbreviations in LaTeX?

Here's an example to show the differences of e.g. and e.\,g..

\documentclass{article}

\begin{document}

Some text, e.g.~some example.

Some text, e.\,g.~some example.

Some text, e.g.,~some example.

Some text, e.\,g.,~some example.

\end{document}


This gives the following output:

-
I'm not an expert, but as far as I know the \,-rule applies to German, but not to English. Therefore it should be e.g. but z.\,B. for German "zum Beispiel". – Carsten Thiel Aug 16 '11 at 11:30
I've never seen this space in English. @Carsten, I think you should make your comment an answer. – TH. Aug 16 '11 at 12:10
that's true that it isn't use in the english language – Herbert Aug 16 '11 at 16:04

The short answer is that you should follow your publisher's style guide. The spacing in this case is a matter of style and the rules vary from publisher to publisher.

The Chicago Manual of Style is used by a number of publishers in the United States. The sixteenth edition recommends setting e.g. without the space. Here are a few entries that are relevant:

10.6 Space or no space between elements. No space is left between the letters of initialisms and acronyms, whether lowercase or in capitals. Space is usually left between abbreviated words, unless an abbreviated word is used in combination with a single-letter abbreviation. For personal names, see 10.12.

RN, C-SPAN, YMCA, Gov. Gen., Mng. Ed., Dist. Atty., but S.Dak., S.Sgt.

10.12 Initials in personal names. Initials standing for given names are followed by a period and a space. A period is normally used even if the middle initial does not stand for a name (as in Harry S. Truman).

Roger W. Shugg, P. D. James, M. F. K. Fishner

If an entire name is abbreviated, space and periods are usually omitted.

FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), MJ (Michael Jordan), but H.D. (pen name for Hilda Doolittle, with periods but no space between initials)

Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style has the following to say on the matter:

2.1.5 Add little or no space within strings of initials.

Names such as W.B. Years and J.C.L. Prillwitz need hair spaces, thin spaces or no spaces at all after the intermediary periods. A normal word space follows the last period in the string.

But remember that you should check with your publisher or find a commonly accepted style guide for your language/country to see how to handle it in your own situation.

-
You write "The sixteenth edition recommends setting e.g. without the space." You don't mean that it also recommends to typeset it in italics or emphasized, right? – N.N. Aug 17 '11 at 6:50
@N.N.: Correct. Chicago style doesn't italicize common Latin abbreviations (§7.53 and §10.7). – godbyk Aug 17 '11 at 22:45

As far as I know the \,-rule applies only to German, but not to English.

Therefore it should be e.g. – but use z.\,B. for German "zum Beispiel".

-
Christoph Bier's typokurz (great typography in a nutshell guide for and in German, typeset in truly beautiful LaTeX -- the preamble is available, too!) confirms this rule for German on page 6 and references the Duden and Erste Hilfe in Typografie (Willberg & Forssman). Seeing some backup for English typography would be great. – doncherry Aug 16 '11 at 16:28

There is no definitive rule for this in British English.

As others have said, the publisher's house style usually defines the presentation of abbreviations. One of the more extreme (no full points, no spaces between elements of an abbreviation, no use of small caps or italics for abbreviations or acronyms) being that of the Guardian (a UK newspaper):

Do not use full points in abbreviations, or spaces between initials, including those in proper names: US, mph, eg, 4am, lbw, M&S, No 10, AN Wilson, WH Smith, etc.

[guardianstyle, Marsh & Hodson, 2010, guardianbooks, p23. Also available at Guardian and Observer Style guide. A full point is commonly termed a period or full stop. (Thanks for the comments pointing out that this is not a well-known term)]

Outside of style guides, one (of the two nearest to a) standard guide on such topics for British English is Butcher's Copy-editing: The Cambridge handbook for editors, copy-editors and proofreaders by Butcher, Drake and Leach. In the fourth edition, 2006, section 6.1.2, on spacing in abbreviations:

Many publishers have rules about spacing common abbreviations such as personal initials. Table 6.1 shows the usual spacing in some common abbreviations.

Table 6.1 is in two parts: some common abbreviations that are usually closed up (no space after the full point, where one is used, before the next part of the abbreviation) and those that are spaced. Some that are relevant to the current question:

the closed up list includes: AD, D.Phil., e.g., a.c., q.v., i.e., c.g.s.

and the spaced list includes: b. & b., at. wt, fl. oz, sp. gr., H. G. Wells

I have not shown small caps where used. Where spaces are used their size is not defined in this section (except for one case in the table, not included above, where thin spaces (defined as one-ninth of an em) are stated as being used). Elsewhere in the book there is specific guidance on the size of spaces recommended for various cases, some including abbreviations, but the discussion here is, I think, whether there is a rule that any space should be left after a full point in the course of an abbreviation.

-
What does it mean to use full points? – N.N. Aug 24 '11 at 15:28
@N.N.: "full points" refers to periods. Writing "N.N." uses full points while "NN" doesn't. – godbyk Aug 27 '11 at 2:36