I am confused by the behaviour of \xspace in combination with the \todo command. I didn't expect \xspace to leave a space when I cut off all spaces by a comment sign %. Usually this works as expected, cf. counterexample.

However, in my context it doesn't work and I cannot really figure out why.

MWE (edit: added counterexample)


% define mtodo WITH xspace
% define mmtodo WITHOUT xspace
% counterexample

  % with xspace (mtodo)
  \mtodo{Margin Note 1}%
  This is an\mtodo{Margin Note 2} example with xspace.\\
  This is an example with xspace.

  % without xspace (mmtodo)
  \mmtodo{Margin Note 1}%
  This is an\mmtodo{Margin Note 2} example without xspace.\\
  This is an example without xspace.

  % without xspace (mmtodo)
  This is a\mylabel{label1} counterexample.\\
  This is a counterexample.      


  • Commands with arguments don't benefit in any way from \xspace. Don't use it.
    – egreg
    Jan 17, 2015 at 13:38
  • @egreg I cannot 100%ly agree, since the second line shows an effect as I require it. Anyway, which alternative way do you suggest.
    – matheburg
    Jan 17, 2015 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


The definition of \todo is at the end of todonotes.sty:


The usage of \@bsphack means you are supposed to have a space before \todo, if you want that a space appears in the output. Adding \xspace does no good.

In any case


is the same as \xspace X and a space will be added because a letter follows.

So the answer is:

  1. don't use \xspace for commands with arguments
  2. leave a space before \todo (or macros starting with it) if you want a space appears in the output
  3. use \xspace under no circumstances

You probably got the suggestion of \xspace from Todo note steals space Don't follow it.

  • Thanks a lot for these advices. I will do as you suggest. Just a note: my counterexample shows that xspace can work as expected in some cases even with arguments... am I wrong?
    – matheburg
    Jan 17, 2015 at 14:12
  • @matheburg No, it doesn't. In this case it seems to work, just because it kills the \ignorespaces in the definition of \todo.
    – egreg
    Jan 17, 2015 at 14:13
  • 1
    @egreg can you write a comment/answer to your cited question not to use \xspace? I think that would be a good idea ...
    – Mensch
    Jan 17, 2015 at 14:18
  • I have e.g. a command \newcommand{\intodo}[1]{\color{red}[#1]\color{black}\xspace}. Why shouldn't I use \xspace in this command? It really does what I want :)
    – matheburg
    Jan 17, 2015 at 14:20
  • @matheburg No, it does nothing at all. Better said: it could add a space when you don't want it.
    – egreg
    Jan 17, 2015 at 14:21

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