When writing abbreviations in text, periods/dots "." are often used. After these LaTeX inserts a larger space. Usually I use \ or ~ after my periods, but I'm not sure if these insert a breaking or non-breaking space. My desire is to get a space that is similar to other spaces, i.e. the same width and one that adapts its width to fill the line.

What is the correct way to insert a space that allows breaking, but has the same width as the rest of the spaces on the line?

  • If you want to change the spacing globally, so that the whitespace after a period (.) is treated as a normal space, you can simply use the command \frenchspacing.

  • If you only want abbreviations to have normal spacing but large spacing after sentences, you can use \ after the abbreviation. This creates a breaking space that isn't treated as a large whitespace, for example: Prof.\ Walter White.

  • If you want a non-breaking, single-width space, you can use ~, for example: Prof.~Walter~White

  • Ah, that clears it up that \ is breaking. What do you mean by single-width when talking about the ~? – Atnas Jul 7 '20 at 19:37
  • Don't use ~ at the end of a sentence. Too narrow. – John Kormylo Jul 8 '20 at 0:57

I usually use the three methods given in the answer by Knackigkurz. But it should be mentioned that the "official" LaTeX way (in that it is described in the LaTeX manual) is to use the \@ command.

  • To get an ordinary space when LaTeX thinks a sentence ends, put \@ after the punctuation Prof.\@ Walter White.

  • To get a sentence-ending space where LaTeX thinks you have an abbreviation, put \@ before the punctuation Now I have my PhD\@.

  • For the second example: when would LaTeX think I have an abbreviation? Is that if I've setup \frenchspacing? – Atnas Jul 8 '20 at 15:52
  • 1
    This answer also benefits from the explanation of the difference between \@ and \ which can be found here tex.stackexchange.com/a/116530 – Atnas Jul 8 '20 at 15:53
  • Yes, Atnas, a good answer to the question is to eliminate the problem of inappropriately varying spacing by declaring \frenchspacing. No need for \@ in either case. – Donald Arseneau Jul 8 '20 at 23:02

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