# Should I put a space between a number and its unit?

No too much more to say.

$$2.63\si\ohm$$ looks odd. But it might be the correct way.

$$2.64\,\si\ohm$$ looks much better IMO. What about the \,? Sould it be bigger, smaller or there is no really a convention for that?

Thanks.

7.2 Space between numerical value and unit symbol

In the expression for the value of a quantity, the unit symbol is placed after the numerical value and a space is left between the numerical value and the unit symbol. The only exceptions to this rule are for the unit symbols for degree, minute, and second for plane angle (...) in which case no space is left between the numerical value and the unit symbol.

Note that this is what happens if you use the siunitx as intended, namely by using \SI{<value>}{<unit>} (see update note below) to print a quantity:

\SI{2.63}{\ohm}


yields

### Update note

Since version v3 of siunitx, \SI was changed to \qty (along with a bunch of other commands that you can learn about in the manual). Therefore, \qty{2.63}{\ohm} is preferred.

• Note that the quantity is formally a product of the number and the unit, so the space here is showing multiplication. Jun 17, 2011 at 6:14
• @Joseph: Thinking of the quantity as a product of number and unit can be quite useful (e.g. it explains why in tables and graphs, the unit should be separated from the dimension by a forward slash indicating division), but one has to be a bit careful: While different units may be separated by a raised dot to indicate the multiplicative nature, this is not permitted between the number and the units.
– Jake
Jun 17, 2011 at 7:27
• That's a typographic convention: in terms of unit analysis these are all products. Jun 17, 2011 at 7:38
• @JosephWright I disagree. It's simply a notational convention. Jake is right. The same way the "dx" in an integral is in ordinary analysis not multiplied with the function term (unless you reinterpret it as a differential to justify the notational abuse in retrospect), the correct way to think of a number-unit cluster is as a pair <number,dimension>. To convince you of this: no number can ever modify a dimension and no dimension can ever modify a number. When you think of "2m" denoting "two meters", this really means "2m = 2 * 1m" (= 2 * <1,m>), not "2 * m". Nov 3, 2012 at 5:03
• @Jake [still addressing Joseph, but I'd like Jake to see this:] There are other constraints: not only does one never write "34·m" (like Jake has pointed out), one also never writes things like "m·1kg"; it must be "1 kg m" or "1 kg·m", and the reason is that there is an underlying constraint (normally obeyed, though I'm sure there are exceptions) that no unit cluster is preceded by nothing. Technically speaking, "(3m²)/(m)" (displayed as an ordinary fraction) is notational abuse as well, because it should parse as "3 (m²)/(m)", but admittedly that is tolerated. Nov 3, 2012 at 5:10

This is more of an answer to an answer (too long for a comment; no picture), but hopefully it'll serve as an illustration to the question as well:

\documentclass{minimal}
\usepackage{siunitx}
\def\hilit{\hskip-.1pt\smash{% negative skip for the vrule width
\special{color push rgb 1 0 0}\vrule width.1pt height4.5ex depth6ex\special{color pop}}}
\begin{document}
\SI{2.63}{\ohm}               \par
$2.63\hilit\,\hilit\Omega$    \par % which is the same thing as...
$2.63\mskip\thinmuskip\Omega$ \par % which is the same thing as...
$2.63\mskip3mu\Omega$         \par % 1em == 18mu; mu == "math unit"
$dx\,dy$                      \par
%
$2.63\hphantom{\cdot}\Omega$  \par % we're talking about a product
% product = "a quantity obtained by multiplying quantities together, or from
% an analogous algebraic operation." --New Oxford American Dictionary
$2.63\hilit~\hilit\Omega$     \par % ~ == "non-breakable space" or "tie-in"
\end{document}


• Great comparison. I'll stick with the siunitx way for now. Jun 18, 2011 at 21:31
– lblb
Oct 6, 2017 at 19:32
• @lblb did you notice the comments inside the code block? Oct 6, 2017 at 19:41
• @morbusg: Yes, but I still find your answer a bit lacking when a reader has to look through the code to find out what it is supposed to show. And as you didn't intend to answer the question, it is misplaced as it is.
– lblb
Oct 6, 2017 at 19:43
• @lblb fair enough. Feel free to downvote as I’m a little hesitant to delete the answer seeing it has been helpful to others. Oct 7, 2017 at 6:49

My preference would be \;\si\ohm rather than \,\si\ohm or \si\ohm. As Jake mentions, there is a convention, though it strikes me as ill-defined. "A space" is either literal or typographically ambiguous. Definitely some kind of space is preferable to none, but the exact size is likely up to personal taste outside of technical papers (where the behavior is defined, one hopes) or when not using the facilities provided by siunitx.

• @Jake Well, that's me sorted. :D Jun 17, 2011 at 4:16
• you could delete the answer, then Jun 17, 2011 at 13:40
• @Simon Edited instead to still be correct and useful, but not to steal Jake's thunder, so to speak. Jun 17, 2011 at 15:33

Some arguments none of the existing anwers provide:

• A number with unit is a multiplication, which in mathematics is shown with a space between the factors. That's why math fonts are supposed to have wider sidebarings in their characters: make them look like multiplied individual objects instead of one word.

• It makes sense from a language consistency standpoint: a unit symbol can be thought of as an abbreviation for a longer word. You wouldn't suddenly remove the space before a word just because it is abbreviated. (A stands for Apple. I give you 8A vs. I give you 8 Apples)

• I have the suspicion that people want the number and unit to stay on the same line in their text application but are ignorant of or unable to use a nonbreaking space.

• Many practical uses of number-unit combinations don't want to waste the space needed for a number-unit separation. Think of a tiny electronic component that needs a value printed on it. If there's even a unit included, it always is slapped right after the number for space saving and therefore tradition. Because if not, the font size would need to decrease so less people will be able to read the printing correctly. Things like this teach people unconsciously about not using a space, even if one would be correct to use.