Given the following plain TeX snippet and it's output:

hallo werld

{\catcode`\ =12
hallo wereld}

hallo wereld}

{\tt\catcode`\ =12
hallo wereld}

Screenshot of pdfTeX output on given example

The command \catcode`\ =12 changes the category of the space character to "Other". This will make TeX display it.

The space glyph in a typewriter typeface looks familiar. However, the glyph shown in the default typeface I don't recognize.

Out of curiosity, does it have a name? And what is it used for?


2 Answers 2


TeX doesn't use a real character from the current font for spaces, so Knuth decided to fill also the slot usually reserved for it with a rarely used glyph: the slash for producing the "Polish suppressed ell" ł. Here are the relevant lines in plain.tex

\def\L{\leavevmode\setbox0\hbox{L}\hbox to\wd0{\hss\char32L}}

This is also supplemented by a kerning entry in the TFM file:

   (LABEL O 40)
   (KRN C l R -0.277779)
   (KRN C L R -0.319446)

Since the character has width 0.277779pt, when it comes before a lowercase "l", its width is compensated for.

In the cmtt10 font (and the other typewriter type fonts), the slot is filled with a "visible space".


It looks like the slash on U+2422 (BLANK SYMBOL): ␢. Since LaTeX has been known to overlay slashes on regular characters (e.g., the symbol produced by \hbar), I bet the underlying b was erased or omitted.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.