• em space, Geviert: u+2003
  • en space, Halbgeviert: u+2002
  • ⅓ em space, Drittelgeviert: u+2004
  • 1/4 em space, Viertelgeviert: u+2005
  • 1/5 em space, Fünftelgeviert: u+2009
  • 1/6 em space, Sechstelgeviert: u+2006
  • 1/8 em space, Achtelgeviert: u+200a

Or should I change 1/8 em space to u+2009, thin space, and use u+200a, hair space, to stand for 1/24 em space instead, like Yukka Korpela notes about InDesign's quirk, changing my list into this?

  • em space, German: Geviert: u+2003
  • en space, German: Halbgeviert: u+2002
  • ⅓ em space, German: Drittelgeviert: u+2004
  • 1/4 em space, German: Viertelgeviert: u+2005
  • 1/5 em space, German: Fünftelgeviert: u+2009
  • 1/6 em space, German: Sechstelgeviert: u+2006
  • 1/8 em space, German: Achtelgeviert: u+2009
  • 1/24 em space, German: Vierundzwanzigstelgeviert: u+200a

I am looking for a "good enough" solution to an issue which has been bugging me for a few years now: not being able to set em spaces and typographically typical fractions of em spaces outside of specific dtp software.

I was working with the following sources for this list:

  • I dont think there is a solution to your question if you dont give us context as to where you want it to work.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 23:56
  • The context is using a so-called text expander to replace custom text input with specific snippets. In this case, making em spaces available for daily use in Windows software text input, replacing the string “(emspace)” with the Unicode character “u+2003”, for example.
    – goombox
    Commented Apr 29, 2023 at 11:20
  • 1
    doesnt sound like a design question to me.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 29, 2023 at 15:55
  • I am not happy being led on by being asked for clarification, either.
    – goombox
    Commented Apr 29, 2023 at 16:13
  • 1
    Ok, but see unicode does not make the font and the font author can override things and the type engine may override other things. So i dont see how it can be done. For gods sake people use minus hyphen instead of unicode minus or unicode hyphen.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 29, 2023 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


Some of those named quads are properly mapped to Unicode characters, some are not and cannot be. There is a rather limited numberUnicode spaces that have a defined width in terms of the quad, i.e. the em unit.

You can map

  • em space to U+2003 (or, equivalenty, to U+2001)
  • en space to U+2002 (or, equivalenty, to U+2000)
  • 1/3 em space to U+2004
  • 1/4 em space to U+2005
  • 1/6 em space to U+2006
  • 4/18 em space (i.e. 2/9 em space) to U+205F

These have widths defined in the Unicode standard. It is reasonable to expect font designers to implement that way. There is no reason to deviate from the defined widths, though designers might do so by accident.

The Unicode standard describes U+2009 THIN SPACE as “1/5 em (or sometimes 1/6 em)”. So it is not really a fixed-width space. Moreover, due to the ways thin spaces have been used in typography, font designers and software designers may have reasons to use other, generally smaller widths when implementing U+2009 either directly in a font or by turning it to software-specific spacing. For example, Adobe describes THIN SPACE as 1/8 em.


U+200A HAIR SPACE has no defined or even suggested width in the Unicode standard, just the comment that is thinner than thin space and that it the thinnest space in traditional typography. According to Adobe, it is 1/24 em. But Microsoft says that “Recommended standard setting is 1/10..1/16 of the em.”


So 1/5 em and 1/24 em cannot be mapped to Unicode characters, and 1/8 em cannot be mapped to any single character, but you could use a sequence of four U+202F characters

  • I appreciate you taking time out of your life to answer my question. I wouldn't have ever anticipated to hear back from you, the man himself, but I guess server logs are not only interesting to me 😀. I believe I will write about this on my own website, because it is remarkable in itself. Have a great retirement and greetings from Germany, on a train to Stuttgart!
    – goombox
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 14:20

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