# What is the correct way to signal the end a LaTeX command?

I am writing a LaTeX export feature for my database. To this end, I am doing a symbol-by-symbol transformation of special characters in latin-1 text fields to LaTeX macros, such as `_` to `\_`, `~` to `\textasciitilde`, and so end. When doing this, many macro commands need to be separated from text immediately following it, or I will end up with errors like "`~user`" being transformed to "`\textasciitildeuser`".

Using Google I came up with a number of different ways to achieve this separation, such as:

• putting a white space at the end of the macro, e.g. '`\textasciitilde `'
• putting an empty pair of brackets at the end, e.g. '`\textasciitilde{}`'
• putting the macro into brackets, e.g. '`{\textasciitilde}`'

What is the correct an intended way to separate a LaTeX macro command from the text immediately following it? For instance, the third way seems a little problematic to me since putting stuff in brackets may have additional effect, e.g. when the text is used as content of BibTeX fields.

Use a space Especially in math mode both `{\foo}` and `\foo{}` will have an adverse effect on spacing, and as you comment surrounding the command may negate it altogether, for example `{\small}` does nothing as the font change is discarded at the `}`.
• Isn't it a bit more complicated? If the original was `å finne` then `\aa finne` produces the wrong output. So it depends on whether a space is wanted after the command or not. – Loop Space Aug 26 '13 at 10:22
• @AndrewStacey for generated code I think it's easier to think of it as always terminating by a space, if you want to add a space you can add `\ ` anyway `\aa \ finne` is OK – David Carlisle Aug 26 '13 at 10:37
• Having done some testing, I tend to agree with Andrew's comment. Maybe (at least in my case) using a terminating `{}` is an easier way to go since I work with a symbol-by-symbol transformation. Detecting whether an actual space follows a latex command would complicate the code to some degree. If the spacing in math mode (which is not a problem in my scenario) is the only caveat, I think I am fine with this solution. – MRA Aug 26 '13 at 12:15