# Possible to add minimal horizontal space around quotation marks?

I occasionally need to quote a single character. Quoting the usual way

i''


with practically zero space between the quotes and the character leads to an unappealing look, in my opinion, and it can be hard to identify the character.

Using italics is not an option, since I also use single character math variables in the same context. Making it bold would work, but I'd rather not resort to it.

 i ''


produces more space than needed for readability.

I currently resort to a hack, where I add 1pt space around the character (see the MWE below).

That looks kind of acceptable to me, but I'm wondering if (a) there's a better way to solve this problem without resorting to adding minimal space, and (b) in case space is unavoidable, if there's a global way to change spacing around quotation marks?

\documentclass{article}

\newcommand{\s}{\hspace{1pt}}

\begin{document}

i'' n'' x'' I''\\

 i ''  n ''  x ''  I ''\\

\s i\s'' \s n\s'' \s x\s'' \s I\s''

\end{document}

• What about something like \newcommand{\qu}[1]{"\hspace{1pt}{#1}\hspace{1pt}"}? Does that fill your needs? You can still have your normal "quotes" and those with more space using \qu{quotes}. You can of course adjust the spacing in the quotes by changing the \hspace value. – Huang_d Jun 11 '17 at 18:28
• This is pretty good. Just out of curiosity, there's no package (or low-level latex internal command) that does allow to adjust spacing around the  and '' symbols themselves? – Bert Zangle Jun 11 '17 at 23:02
• PdfTeX (but not TeX) does provide low-level primitives for prepending or appending a kern to every occurence of a given character, but this is not a good solution to your problem, because probably you will also want to use  and '' for ordinary quotes, where the additional kerns would be quite inappropriate; rather, go for @egreg’s solution – GuM Jul 1 '17 at 22:44

It makes sense to define a special command for this:

\newcommand{\scq}[1]{\kern1pt #1\kern1pt''}


Not \hspace, because it would add a line break point, which \kern doesn't.

\documentclass{article}

\newcommand{\scq}[1]{\kern1pt #1\kern1pt''}

\begin{document}

i'' n'' x'' I''

\scq{i} \scq{n} \scq{x} \scq{I}

\end{document}