Consider example1:


In example2 a space is added between o and w, in comparison with example 1:


(It seems that space (which appeared from ^M), is not gobbled after a macro argument. Is it a general rule?)

In example3 a small kern is added between o and w, in comparison with example1:


Why those unwanted spaces appear and how to remove them?

  • \magstep0 does not mean no space. The natural size of a font is its \magstep0 size. Sep 10, 2015 at 5:24
  • @R.Schumacher: 0 is just an example. Try, e.g., \magstep1 and you will see. Sep 10, 2015 at 5:26
  • Of course, it makes no sense setting \mag in horizontal mode, does it?
    – egreg
    Sep 10, 2015 at 10:31
  • @egreg: I occasionally stumbled upon it. I just thought that spaces are always gobbled after a number. Sep 10, 2015 at 11:21
  • 1
    @IgorLiferenko Not after a number: after a constant required by the syntax. As Heiko explains, at the point 0 is absorbed it is not yet a constant required by the syntax. If you say \magnification1200, then a space would be gobbled.
    – egreg
    Sep 10, 2015 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


\magstep is a macro, which takes one argument. Thus \magstep0 or \magstep{0} uses 0 as argument. A space afterwards remains, because it is not touched by \magstep0 at all.

There is an implicit kern between ow. They are moved a little together. Example 3 breaks this implicit kerning, because it inserts unexpandable stuff (assignment of \magnification) inbetween. Therefore this should be avoided in the middle of words.

  • Are spaces removed at the beginning of a document? (if we begin a document with \magnification=\magstepN a space is introduced) Sep 10, 2015 at 5:38
  • @IgorLiferenko An assignment does not introduce a space. Sep 10, 2015 at 6:35
  • \magnification=\magstepN is the same as \magnification\magstepN, isn't it? I mean the space which I'm talking about in the question: the one which appeared from ^M. Anyway, I found the explanation: TeXbook, page 112, second paragraph. Sep 10, 2015 at 6:59
  • 2
    @IgorLiferenko Spaces in vertical mode are ignored.
    – wipet
    Sep 10, 2015 at 8:03

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