# Quotation Mark Pairing

How do you force LaTeX to treat three closing quotation marks as the first one being a single-mark, the last two being a double mark?

This is important when a quote within a quote ends as follows:

the cat 'sat on the mat'''.


This renders:

'' '.


But I want it to render:

' ''.


MWE:

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{book}
\begin{document}
Testing one, two, three'''.
\end{document}


I would recommend to use the csquotes package.

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{book}

\usepackage{csquotes}

\begin{document}
\enquote{Testing \enquote{one, two, three}}.
\end{document}


This package is configurable with respect to the style of the quotation. Compare, for example, version A

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{book}

\usepackage[english]{babel}
\usepackage[style=british]{csquotes}

\begin{document}
\enquote{Testing \enquote{one, two, three}}.
\end{document}


with version B

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{book}

\usepackage[english]{babel}
\usepackage[style=american]{csquotes}

\begin{document}
\enquote{Testing \enquote{one, two, three}}.
\end{document}


In most cases, the combination of babel and csquotes using the autostyle=true option of csquotes is just fine.

As two following single quotation marks are always merged, you can use a space in input. That will give the desired output.

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{book}
\begin{document}
Testing one, two, three' ''.
\end{document}


Alternatively, if you prefer very small space, you could use (not in LuaLaTeX, thanks to Harald Hanche-Olsen)

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{book}
\begin{document}
Testing one, two, three'{}''.
\end{document}


And last method (suggested by Knuth in the TeXbook and by barbara beeton in the comments):

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{book}
\begin{document}
Testing one, two, three'\,''.
\end{document}

• In luatex, inserting an empty group {} does not inhibit ligatures, so your second alternative doesn't work there. You can fix that with a zero length space, instead: …three'\kern0pt''. This has the added advantage that adjusting the amount of space is trivial. (But of course, with luatex, you can just use the proper quotes directly, avoiding the whole issue.) – Harald Hanche-Olsen Nov 13 '17 at 14:33
• in the texbook, knuth recommends using \, for the space. – barbara beeton Nov 13 '17 at 15:46
• \, is also recommended in Leslie Lamport's LaTeX: A Document Preparation System – Au101 Nov 14 '17 at 0:12

I let csquotes handle this:

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{book}
\usepackage[english]{babel}
\usepackage[autostyle]{csquotes}
\begin{document}
\enquote{Testing \enquote{one, two, three}}.
\end{document}


\documentclass{article}
\newcommand\mt{\kern 0.083335em}
\begin{document}

% A poor's man solution without packages
Testing one, two, three'\mt''.

% Or ...
\textquotedblleft
Testing
\textquoteleft
one, two, three%
\textquoteright\mt
\textquotedblright.

\end{document}

• Could you explain? That \kern number looks very arbitrary. – Aaron Hall Nov 13 '17 at 20:44
• @AaronHall 0.083335em is exactly one half \thinspace. At glance seem to fit with the space used with csquotes ( I have not searched in the source code of the package, maybe is not exactly the same). – Fran Nov 13 '17 at 21:02
• Still seems arbitrary. Why one-half of a \thinspace? – Aaron Hall Nov 13 '17 at 21:04
• @AaronHall Why not? Why \thinspace is one-sith part of em (.16667em) instead of one-tenth of pi logarithm (.114473em) or something else? Is the same space used in csquotes, the smallest standard spacing (\thinspace`) seem to large for this and one quarter is hardly noticed. But if this is not convincing, nothing prevents you from changing it. – Fran Nov 13 '17 at 21:23