# Superimposing characters in text mode (pdfTeX)

I'm trying to compose a non-Unicode character by arranging Unicode characters one above the other or one next to the other close-up, but I'd need a negative space which in text mode isn't available. Is there a way to get something similar?

• Why should you not be able to use a \hspace{-1pt} in text mode? – Ulrike Fischer Jan 7 '14 at 8:45
• Because by "negative space" I meant \!, and I didnt know the argument of \hspace could be negative. :) – MickG Jan 7 '14 at 9:45
• @UlrikeFischer -- if that character string happens to fall exactly at the right margin, an \hspace can break, unless it's explicitly told not to. \kern won't break. – barbara beeton Jan 7 '14 at 14:44
• Can you tell what characters you want to superimpose to each other? – egreg Jan 7 '14 at 15:30
• @MickG The question is too generic to receive an answer. – egreg Jan 7 '14 at 18:16

I answer as per David Carlisle's request. The point is that I tend not to invent too much, and I had no idea \hspace could accept a negative argument, so I tried \! which isn't allowed in text mode since it's defined in terms of \thinmuskip. The character I wanted to compose was the Biang in Biangbiang noodles. I ended up doing it like this:

%Comandi comuni
%!TEX TS-program = xelatex
%!TEX encoding = UTF-8 Unicode
\documentclass[a4paper]{report}
\usepackage{fontspec,xltxtra,xunicode}
\usepackage{hyperref,mathptmx}
\newfontfamily{\Cht}{STKaiti}
\newcommand{\scb}{\scalebox}
\newcommand{\hsp}{\hspace}
\newcommand{\zhangmazhang}{\scb{1}[3.33333333333]{長}\hspace{-3pt}\scb{2.3}[3.5385]{馬}\hspace{-3pt}\scb{1}[3.33333333333]{長}}
\newcommand{\niuyanniu}{\scb{1}[2]{幺}\hsp{-4pt}\scb{1.3}[2.1667]{言}\hsp{-4pt}\scb{1}[2]{幺}}
\newcommand{\STKaitibiangbiang}{\scb{8}[10]{辶}\hspace{-57pt}\rotatebox[x=0.2cm,y=1cm]{-7}{\scb{5}[2]{\raisebox{5.3pt}{心}}}\hsp{-37pt}\scb{0.7}[0.7]{\raisebox{33pt}{\zhangmazhang}}\hsp{-28pt}\raisebox{43pt}{\scb{1.25}[1.25]{\niuyanniu}}\hsp{-39pt}\raisebox{26pt}{\scb{1}[4.5]{月}}\hsp{0.87cm}\raisebox{25pt}{\scb{1.2}[4.8]{刂}}\hsp{-1.5cm}\raisebox{61pt}{\scb{3.9}[1.5]{八}}\hsp{-1.7cm}\raisebox{58pt}{\scb{5.6}[4]{宀}}\hsp{0.21cm}}

\begin{document}
\fbox{\Cht{\scb{8}[10]{辶}\hspace{-57pt}\rotatebox[x=0.2cm,y=1cm]{-7}{\scb{5}[2]{\raisebox{5.3pt}{心}}}\hsp{-37pt}\scb{0.7}[0.7]{\raisebox{33pt}{\zhangmazhang}}\hsp{-28pt}\raisebox{43pt}{\scb{1.25}[1.25]{\niuyanniu}}\hsp{-39pt}\raisebox{26pt}{\scb{1}[4.5]{月}}\hsp{0.87cm}\raisebox{25pt}{\scb{1.2}[4.8]{刂}}\hsp{-1.5cm}\raisebox{61pt}{\scb{3.9}[1.5]{八}}\hsp{-1.7cm}\raisebox{58pt}{\scb{5.6}[4]{宀}}\hsp{0.21cm}}}吗\scb{0.1}[0.1]{\STKaitibiangbiang}\scb{0.4}[0.4]{\STKaitibiangbiang}\\[1cm]
Oh yeah! Fatto!
\end{document}


Btw yes, \Cht is a TeX-style syntax font switch, so \Cht{…} should be {\Cht …}. I only learnt that long after this was done.