[pdftex] Spacing between letters ---plain pdftex

John R. Culleton john at wexfordpress.com
Tue Jun 26 23:04:36 CEST 2007

On Tuesday 26 June 2007 15:46, Robin Fairbairns wrote:
> John R. Culleton <john at wexfordpress.com> wrote:
> > On Tuesday 26 June 2007 11:37, John R. Culleton wrote:
> > > There is a LaTeX sty that with some clumsiness will set a
> > > string of letters to a particular degree of "tracking" positive
> > > or negative. What I am wondering is if there is a primitive or
> > > plain tex value that I can modify for a given string to put
> > > letterspacing between glyphs such as is often used in a running
> > > head for fiction, often with smallcaps.  I am thinking of
> > > something like
> > > \headline={\sc\foo 1.5 Here is My title}
> > >
> > > where \sc is a smallcap font and \foo is the parameter I need
> > > to reset to get more interglyph spacing.
> >
> > Thanh Han The answered offlist with an exact solution involving
> > the pdftex primitive \letterspacing as described here:
> > http://www.sendspace.com/file/0y11fy
> >
> > Whatever would we do without him?
> read the manual?  you obviously knew there's a pdftex primitive, or
> you wouldn't have asked here...
> (mind you, without him, there would be no manual...)

BTW Han's  \letterspacing primitive is not in the Pdftex Manual, at 
least not in my 2005 version. All the added primitives described 
therein have the \pdf prefix. 
> (incidentally, the jibe at latex was amusing, given that the first
> instance of letterspacing macros that i encountered was written for
> plain tex use by one of the world's most eager plain tex
> worshippers. actually, i think soul is rather neater...)
> robin

Actually I was looking for something like an original TeX primitive 
dimension, like the ones used for \nonfrenchspacing but for letters 
and not words.  Didn't think to check for a pdftex addon. Han's paper 
is actually fairly recent: April 2007. He does not use a dimension 
value but creates a special font on the fly.  

 WRT LaTeX I have used soul.sty  in a Context job where the 
InDesign-influenced designer specified tracking all over the place. 
There are several parameters to be set for each iteration of soul.sty 
which gives very fine control but IMO made it clumsy to use in 
practice. It required special handling in tracked multiline 
paragraphs.  Han's solution appears to handle that situation better 
with less fuss and feathers. 

And the earlier letterspace/letterspacing macro (it is referred to by 
both names) you refer to exists in texlive but I couldn't find an 
example of actual use. The voluminous internal documentation 
described everything except how to use it.   

Fortunately Han came to the rescue.  

While I am on the subject, do you know of any free Western European 
SmallCap font that ships with the current texlive or Miktex? Because 
of the nature of my particular application (destined to be used by 
others) I am precluded from just buying one for $24 USD. There used 
to be a sc font shipped with texlive 2006 in the CMConcrete series 
but that series doesn't show up in texlive 2007. I can just package 
the CMConcrete pfb with my app for demonstration purposes but I 
prefer something that another party can reference from their current 
distro, either texlive or Miktex. 

Your assistance and gentle guidance is, as always appreciated.   
John Culleton

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