I know that \: in LaTeX produces a space when rendered.

Are there any alternatives, because my LaTeX renderer doesn't support \: (it renders it as text), and there is no help / FAQ that I can find.

  • 2
    \bigskip skips a line. Just leaving this here for me :) – Zero Pancakes Apr 7 at 6:08

There are a number of horizontal spacing macros for LaTeX:

  1. \, inserts a .16667em space in text mode, or \thinmuskip (equivalent to 3mu) in math mode; there's an equivalent \thinspace macro;
  2. \! is the negative equivalent to \,; there's an equivalent \negthinspace macro;
  3. \> (or \:) inserts a .2222em space in text mode, or \medmuskip (equivalent to 4.0mu plus 2.0mu minus 4.0mu) in math mode; there's an equivalent \medspace;
  4. \negmedspace is the negative equivalent to \medspace;
  5. \; inserts a .2777em space in text mode, or \thickmuskip (equivalent to 5.0mu plus 5.0mu) in math mode; there's an equivalent \thickspace;
  6. \negthickspace is the negative equivalent to \thickspace;
  7. \enspace inserts a space of .5em in text or math mode;
  8. \quad inserts a space of 1em in text or math mode;
  9. \qquad inserts a space of 2em in text or math mode;
  10. \kern <len> inserts a skip of <len> (may be negative) in text or math mode (a plain TeX skip); there's also a math-specific \mkern <math len>;
  11. \hskip <len> (similar to \kern);
  12. \hspace{<len>} inserts a space of length <len> (may be negative) in math or text mode (a LaTeX \hskip);
  13. \hphantom{<stuff>} inserts space of length equivalent to <stuff> in math or text mode. \phantom{<stuff>} is similar, inserting a horizontal and vertical space that matches <stuff>. Should be \protected when used in fragile commands (like \caption and sectional headings);
  14. \  inserts what is called a "control space" (in text or math mode);
  15. inserts an inter-word space in text mode (and is gobbled in math mode). Similarly for \space and { }.
  16. ~ inserts an "unbreakable" space (similar to an HTML &nbsp;) (in text or math mode);
  17. \hfill inserts a so-called "rubber length" or stretch between elements (in text or math mode). Note that you may need to provide a type of anchor to fill from/to; see What is the difference between \hspace*{\fill} and \hfill?;

Your usage should work in math mode, so try $\:$.

enter image description here


\usepackage[margin=1in]{geometry}% Just for this example
\setlength{\parindent}{0pt}% Just for this example


There are a number of horizontal spacing macros for LaTeX:

  \verb|a\,b|                     & a\,b \quad $a\, b$ \\
  \verb|a\thinspace b|            & a\thinspace b \quad $a\thinspace b$ \\
  \verb|a\!b|                     & a\!b \quad $a\!b$ \\
  \verb|a\negthinspace b|         & a\negthinspace b \quad $a\negthinspace b$ \\
  \verb|a\:b|                     & a\:b \quad $a\:b$ \\
  \verb|a\>b|                     & a\>b \quad $a\>b$ \\
  \verb|a\medspace b|             & a\medspace b \quad $a\medspace b$ \\
  \verb|a\negmedspace b|          & a\negmedspace b \quad $a\negmedspace b$ \\
  \verb|a\;b|                     & a\;b \quad $a\;b$ \\
  \verb|a\thickspace b|           & a\thickspace b \quad $a\thickspace b$ \\
  \verb|a\negthickspace b|        & a\negthickspace b \quad $a\negthickspace b$ \\
  \verb|$a\mkern\thinmuskip b$|   & $a\mkern\thinmuskip b$ (similar to \verb|\,|) \\
  \verb|$a\mkern-\thinmuskip b$|  & $a\mkern-\thinmuskip b$ (similar to \verb|\!|) \\
  \verb|$a\mkern\medmuskip b$|    & $a\mkern\medmuskip b$ (similar to \verb|\:| or \verb|\>|) \\
  \verb|$a\mkern-\medmuskip b$|   & $a\mkern-\medmuskip b$ (similar to \verb|\negmedspace|) \\
  \verb|$a\mkern\thickmuskip b$|  & $a\mkern\thickmuskip b$ (similar to \verb|\;|) \\
  \verb|$a\mkern-\thickmuskip b$| & $a\mkern-\thickmuskip b$ (similar to \verb|\negthickspace|) \\
  \verb|a\enspace b|              & a\enspace b \\
  \verb|$a\enspace b$|            & $a\enspace b$ \\
  \verb|a\quad b|                 & a\quad b \\
  \verb|$a\quad b$|               & $a\quad b$ \\
  \verb|a\qquad b|                & a\qquad b \\
  \verb|$a\qquad b$|              & $a\qquad b$ \\
  \verb|a\hskip 1em b|            & a\hskip 1em b \\
  \verb|$a\hskip 1em b$|          & $a\hskip 1em b$ \\
  \verb|a\kern 1pc b|             & a\kern 1pc b \\
  \verb|$a\kern 1pc b$|           & $a\kern 1pc b$ \\
  \verb|$a\mkern 17mu b$|         & $a\mkern 17mu b$ \\
  \verb|a\hspace{35pt}b|          & a\hspace{35pt}b \\
  \verb|$a\hspace{35pt}b$|        & $a\hspace{35pt}b$ \\
  \verb|axyzb|                    & axyzb \\
  \verb|a\hphantom{xyz}b|         & a\hphantom{xyz}b (or just \verb|\phantom|) \\
  \verb|$axyzb$|                  & $axyzb$ \\
  \verb|$a\hphantom{xyz}b$|       & $a\hphantom{xyz}b$ (or just \verb|\phantom|) \\
  \verb|a b|                      & a b \\
  \verb|$a b$|                    & $a b$ \\
  \verb|a\space b|                & a\space b \\
  \verb|$a\space b$|              & $a\space b$ \\
  \verb|a\ b|                     & a\ b \\
  \verb|$a\ b$|                   & $a\ b$ \\
  \verb|a{ }b|                    & a{ }b \\
  \verb|$a{ }b$|                  & $a{ }b$ \\
  \verb|a~b|                      & a~b \\
  \verb|$a~b$|                    & $a~b$ \\
  \verb|a\hfill b|                & a\hfill b \\
  \verb|$a\hfill b$|              & $a\hfill b$

| improve this answer | |
  • 14
    @Werner -- \ (backslash space) inserts a space equivalent to a word space; would be usefully added. also, in tabbing, \> will "add space" as a function of skipping to the next "tab stop"; adding this information may or may not be useful. – barbara beeton Jan 28 '14 at 15:14
  • 3
    How about italics correction, with \/? – Magnus Lie Hetland Mar 22 '14 at 12:04
  • 3
    Don't forget \kern and \mkern for text and math modes, respectively, when you wish to prevent the inadvertent addition of glue. – Steven B. Segletes May 8 '14 at 0:28
  • 2
    I just noticed that \hfil has already been suggested but it hasn't been included in your table. It's worthy to mention the construct a\hfill\hfill b\hfill c and the similar use of \hfil -- a\hfil\hfil b\hfil c – corporal May 8 '14 at 5:27
  • 5
    @Mars: mu is a math unit, and varies in length depending on the style you're in (\displaystyle, \textstyle, \scriptstyle, or \scriptscriptstyle), similar to how em and ex varies within text mode based on the active font. Also, x plus y minus z refer to "rubber lengths" that can stretch from x to x+y or shrink to x-z, as needed, based on the surrounding text within the paragraph. If used within a box, or fully-stretchable environment (like a tabular's l, c or r columns), it'll result in a spacing of x, since there is no need to stretch or shrink. – Werner Mar 3 '18 at 20:45

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