[texhax] TeX Queries (2)

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Fri Jul 13 20:25:09 CEST 2012

On 2012-07-13 at 10:09:29 +0200, Paul Isambert wrote:

 >> 1: `\thinspace`` bla bla ''{'}
 >> 2: ``{`}rabit rabit {'}''

 > You don't need \thinspace in the first case, and {`}`` is perfectly ok.
 > But you need it in case 2, as explained in the TeXbook: the combination
 > outer-single-quote + inner double-quote is ok, the other way around is
 > not. (Why? I don't know; it seems to favor the British way over the
 > American way, which is surprising, since Don Knuth is American; but
 > there probably are other reasons.)

In the first case, \thinspace adds a litte bit more space than that
you get when using the braces.  Hence it's better not to mix them up.
With braces the result looks better IMO than with \thinspace.  For the
closing quotes the braces can be omitted, so

  {`}`` bla bla ''{'}


  {`}`` bla bla '''

yield the same result.

So far it seems that TeX looks for double quotes first and you have to
insert braces if the first character should be a single quote.

However, it doesn't explain why this doesn't work in the second example.
I vaguely remember that double quotes are ligatures in TeX.  This
could probably explain why both examples yield different results. 

Explanations are welcome.


Reinhard Kotucha                                      Phone: +49-511-3373112
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