Letter spacing is a special kind of emphasis often used in combination with blackletter fonts. A letter spaced has 0.125 em spaces between its characters, but some ligatures are preserved. For example: »B ä ck e r ſt r a ß e« How can I get letter spacing with (La)TeX?

  • 5
    The soul package has some features along these lines, but I don't know if it's quite what you are looking for.
    – Lev Bishop
    May 2, 2011 at 13:10
  • 1
    Just for clarity: Sperrsatz (German) = Letter spacing May 2, 2011 at 13:40
  • Frederic Goudy: "A man who would letter space blackletter would steal sheep." May 2, 2011 at 17:27
  • @Martin Scharrer: Thank you for the correct term.
    – FUZxxl
    May 2, 2011 at 18:09
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    While I'm not a native speaker, I'm not sure if "letter spacing" can be used to refer to this markup specifically, although it undoubtedly describes it appropriately. I find the "spacing out" mentioned in the Wikipedia article more precise. "Letter spacing" sounds like "Buchstabenabstand" ("distance between letters") of any kind, including the normal, unaltered. Any native speaker opinion on this (potentially with blackletter typography experience)? (And thanks for the hint on the Wiki article, the part about the mandatory and optional ligatures is quite interesting!)
    – doncherry
    May 3, 2011 at 15:37

3 Answers 3


With the microtype package and pdfTeX, you just need to enclose the text which you want to emphasize in a \textls command. You can adjust the amount of letterspacing (Sperrsatz) globally by adding letterspace=125 to the package options or, alternatively, locally by providing it as an optional argument to the \textls command (in multiples of 1/1000 em).



\textls{B\"ackerstra\ss e}
\textls[50]{B\"ackerstra\ss e}

If you are not interested in the other features of microtype such as margin kerning, you can instead load the letterspace package with the same option.

  • 1
    Works like a charm and even preserves the ligatures.
    – FUZxxl
    May 2, 2011 at 19:47
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    Is this any different from \addfontfeature{LetterSpace=12.5} ?
    – Toothrot
    Aug 3, 2017 at 17:10

This page from the UniFraktur project goes into detail about letterspacing and shows what to do for XeLaTeX.


You can use the soulutf8 package and its \sodef command to define a new command to get the desired letter spacing; to mantain a ligature you can use \mbox inside the argument of the newly defined command:


\sodef\Sp{}{.125em}{1em plus1em}{2em plus.1em minus.1em}

  • 1
    The advantage of using the microtype package in the case of letterspacing with Fraktur is that it preserves the special German ligatures automatically. No need to remember to place various letter combinations inside mbox-es.
    – Mico
    Aug 17, 2011 at 9:05

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