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Assuming you are preparing a German text (say, to be published with Springer), what would be a "standard" way to typeset spaces in a name, say, Edsger Wybe Dijkstra, in which the initials are abbreviated:

  1. E.W.\@ Dijkstra (or E.W. Dijkstra)

  2. E.\@ W.\@ Dijkstra (or E. W. Dijkstra)

  3. E.\,W.\@ Dijkstra (or E.\,W. Dijkstra)

  4. E.\kern.02em W.\@ Dijkstra (or E.\kern.02em W. Dijkstra)

In case 4., what would be the "correct" kerning amount?

  • 3
    why not the simplest E. W. Dijkstra ? (or E.~W.~Dijkstra if you are in a context that could linebreak) – David Carlisle Sep 26 '18 at 16:28
  • 1
    @StevenB.Segletes isn't that the same as 3? – David Carlisle Sep 26 '18 at 16:32
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    Personally, I would opt for 3 (I use that in some of my German texts). – TeXnician Sep 26 '18 at 16:33
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    well, the \@ are not doing anything so just using a space is simpler than using \@ in all four case. I would not use 4 as the numerical value is font-dependent. so E. W. Dijkstra or E.\,W. Dijkstra – David Carlisle Sep 26 '18 at 16:33
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    yes, If you need to end a sentence with a capital then X\@. will do that. – David Carlisle Sep 26 '18 at 16:37
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The book “Detailtypografie” by Forssmann and de Jong recommends the following

Innerhalb von Abkürzungs-Gebilden und von Daten steht ein Flexibles Leerzeichen » «.

Am Ende der Abkürzung und nach dem Datum steht ein Wortzwischenraum » «.

Translation (mine):

Within abbreviation compounds and dates a flexible space » « is placed.

At the end of an abbreviation or after a date an interword space » « is placed.

If I were to translate this to LaTeX, that would be

E.\,W.\ Dijkstra

or, using the convention that TeX does not treat a period after a capital as full stop, we may omit the explicit space \␣

E.\,W. Dijkstra

It is not entirely correct because the \, thin space is a \kern.16667em whereas the “flexible space”, as Forssmann and de Jong call it, is supposed to be \kern.25em (4/M space, de: Viertelgeviert, U+2005).

Initials should not be separated which is why the \, in E.\,W. is a \kern which is unbreakable. If, however, a situation arises where this leads to a problematic line break, they may be split, i.e. the \kern can be replaced by \hskip.

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