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typography on ios: thin space

the thin space character (wikipedia article, „schmales leerzeichen“ in german wikipedia) is a special spacing character in typography, one with less space than blank space (space bar). in german texts it is often used to add a narrow space between characters--for abbreviations, numbers with units, dates and more.

some examples:

  • „z.B.“ → „z. B.“
  • „15. August 1985” → „15. August 1985”
  • „37 °C” → „37 °C”

how to use thin space on ios

the thin space character is not available on the ios keyboard. since ios supports unicode, it is possible to make it accessible. the solution: text replacements.

on your iphone, ipad or ipod touch tap settings / general / keyboards / text replacements, then tap + to create a new text replacement.

enter “z. B.” as phrase and “z.B.” as shortcut.

once you type your shortcut, ios will transform it to your phrase. if you want to, add as many text replacements as needed to cover all your use cases, but please have in mind, that text replacements does not work if phrase begins with a thin space character (or any other space).

workaround, if phrase begins with thin space

just enter a underscore in front of phrase to make such replacements available:

enter “_ °C” as phrase and “°C” as shortcut.

if you type “37 °C” ios will change it to “37 _ °C”. all you have to do know is removing the extra underscore and blank space in front of it. this is not a sweet solution, but will work in most cases. you can use any other character, which leaps more to the eye, if you want to.

all other use cases

it's nearly impossible to cover all use cases with pre-defined text replacements. my last hint is to create a text replacement like this:

enter “_ _” as phrase and “__” as shortcut.

typing “__” will result in getting thin space, along with some extra underscores. from here on it's similar to the workaround above, just remove the extra characters.

main picture by Oliur Rahman, CC0 1.0 license