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Some typographers say it's a good habit to increase the letterspace when writing words in caps or small caps. So my question is, how to do it with pdflatex and/or xelatex? And while we're at it, which words would you alter this way? Acronyms like USA, NATO, IBM, GNU, etc.? How about words like PCs, UdSSR, FreeBSD or TV-Station?

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Use the microtype package, loading it with [tracking=smallcaps] should take care of small caps

For all-uppercase words you can use microtype's \textls, e.g.


(I came across this here, check the provided “Präambel”, the spacing/scaling might be font specific, so use with care and check your output, maybe someone else could comment on this one)

hope this helps

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In XeLaTeX with the fontspec package you can select a font with the LetterSpace feature:


LetterSpace=s is an additional s/F space between letters where F is the font size.

(I swear I once saw an example of letterspacing involving additional glue rather than just fixed space, but I can't see anything around that this could be. Any idea?)

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Another example, this is what's used in the TUGboat journal:


They also have a list of abbreviations/acronyms you can use to get some ideas how/what to letterspace, see tugboat.dtx

For example,




You can use the microtype package and AssBurger's \versal command if you want additional microtypgraphic features like increased letterspace.

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Something I found on a UK mailing list while searching for a solution to increase the letterspace that I think is important to know:

Possibly the ‘ultimate’ in this field is the microtype, which uses the micro-typography capabilities of current PDFTeX to provide a \textls command, which operates according to parameters declared in a \SetTracking command. Microtype’s ‘tracking’ facility expands the natural spacing font itself, rather than inserting space between characters.

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Welcome to tex.sx! microtype and its \textls command were already pointed out in Assburger's answer. – lockstep Mar 9 '12 at 23:23
Thank you for the nice welcome! With my answer I just wanted to highlight, that \textls builds on the natural spacing of the font. If I have to decide among a selection of working solutions, I would choose this one because of consistency. – Matthias Kolja Miehl Apr 2 '12 at 19:57

you can also use the soul package for letterspacing with xelatex since microtype is not supported yet by xelatex (as far as I know)

I would use letterspacing on small caps for titles.

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As long as you don't use non-ascii characters, it seems. All č, ć, ž, đ, š letters are simply lost with soul. – Meho R. Feb 7 '11 at 12:12
@MehoR.Use Heiko Oberdiek’s extended package soulutf8: see the documentation at ctan.uib.no/macros/latex/contrib/oberdiek/soulutf8.pdf – Sveinung Mar 18 '12 at 23:23

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