Whitespace characters

Quickly copy and paste Unicode whitespace characters — and learn how and when to use them.

Zero-width space


Hair space


Six-per-em space


Thin space


Punctuation space


Four-per-em space


Three-per-em space


Figure space


En space


Em space


Braille blank


Caucasian astronaut (white space character)

What are whitespace characters?

Whitespace characters denote the empty space between the characters you can actually see. 

The most common whitespace character is the word space. This is the one you get when you press the space bar.

What is white space?

Generally speaking, white space refers to any empty area of a design or composition.

It’s as simple as that, yet it’s often white space that separates good design from bad — almost always because there isn’t enough of it.

Using white space online

Big type, even huge type, can be beautiful and useful. But poise is usually far more important than size — and poise consists primarily of emptiness. Typographically, poise is made of whitespace.

Robert BringhurstThe Elements of Typographic Style

The above holds especially true online. Web developers have a tendency to cram as much information on your screen as possible.

However, the more crowded a composition, the less weight is carried by each individual element. When designing a website or a document, you can use whitespace characters to distinguish important information.

White space on social media

In many places online (particularly social media), you’re limited to the whitespace characters designated by Unicode.

Using them effectively can help your writing seem more authoritative.

Word space

The word space is the character you get when you press the spacebar. It’s the most common whitespace character.

The word space is a character with an inherent conflict of interest: the space must be wide enough to separate individual words, but narrow enough to encourage grouping into sentences and paragraphs.

Karen ChengDesigning Type
The word space is used to separate words and sentences. You know that already — but there’s still one pitfall to be aware of when using it.

Don’t use two spaces between sentences.

Sometimes, people add two spaces after a period. There's a logic behind this — as the elements of your writing get bigger, so does the white space between them.

letters → words → sentences → paragraphs

However, a period is mostly white space. So sentences already have more space between them than words. The type designer of your chosen typeface will have taken this into account.

No-break spaces

The word space also tells your word processor or web browser when it’s okay to break onto another line — but this isn’t always what you want.

If it’s important to the flow of your writing that two words never be apart, you should insert a no-break space. You can space two words, like normal, without the possibility of them being on separate lines.

MacOS / Windowsctr–shift–spaceHTML entity UnicodeU+00A0

Hair space

Use the hair space when two characters are just a tiny bit closer than you’d like.

Kerning on the fly

You can use the hair space to add kerning (space between two individual letters) in circumstances where you normally can’t, like on social media. For example, the 𝔻𝕠𝕦𝕓𝕝𝕖 𝕊𝕥𝕣𝕦𝕔𝕜 characters generated by the fancy font generator can have terrible 𝕜𝕖𝕣𝕟𝕚𝕟𝕘. You can fix it using a hair space: 𝕜𝕖𝕣𝕟𝕚𝕟𝕘 becomes 𝕜𝕖𝕣  𝕟𝕚𝕟𝕘.
HTML entity UnicodeU+200A

Thin space and six‑per‑em space

These two types of spaces are pretty much the same. Just like the hair space, they’re used to create a little extra space between characters.

Both are roughly one sixth of an em in width. One specific use of the thin space is for separating quotes in nested quotations:

Clive told me that “Prof. Reginald said, ‘Don't use nested quotations.’ ”

Thin Space
HTML entity UnicodeU+2009
Six-per-em space
HTML entity UnicodeU+2006

Punctuation space

The punctuation space takes up as much width as a period. It also acts as a non-breaking space. Some languages have whitespace before a punctuation mark. This space is used in those circumstances.
HTML entity UnicodeU+2008

Figure space and ideographic space

A figure space is used solely for spacing fixed-width numerals. Its width is the same as one of the numerals.

The ideographic space, similar to the figure space, is used with fixed-width CJK (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) characters.

Figure space
HTML entity UnicodeU+2007
Ideographic space
HTML entity UnicodeU+3000

Three-per-em space and four-per-em space

The three-per-em and four-per-em spaces are one third and one fourth the width of an em, respectively.
Three-per-em space
HTML entity UnicodeU+2004
Four-per-em space
HTML entity UnicodeU+2005

Em space and en space

The em space is the width of a capital M, which also happens to be the height of most fonts.

The en space is half the width of an em.

Em Space
HTML entity UnicodeU+2003
En space
HTML entity UnicodeU+2002

Braille blank

This isn’t really a space. It’s meant to represent a braille pattern with six non-raised dots, so it displays as blank or sometimes six hollow dots. ⠀

This means you can use this space in places where you normally can’t, like in URLs.

Braille blank
HTML entity⠀UnicodeU+2800

Zero-width space

The paradoxically named zero-width space lets your browser know when it’s okay to break a word onto a new line without hyphenating it.

Useful, maybe, but the ability to use an invisible character with no width has serious cyber security implications.

Hackers could create usernames, emails addresses, and websites that look identical to a human, but different to computers. Luckily, zero-width spaces are prohibited in email addresses or domain names — and it’s a well-known issue.

On the upside, there are a few genuinely useful things you can do with a zero-width space:

Stop auto-linking

You can stop social media sites from automatically turning a URL into a link without breaking up the text of the link.

Empty form inputs

You can use all these spaces to fill inputs with empty space, but the zero-width space seems to work in a few places the others don’t.

Prevent information leaks

This idea comes from cyber-security guy Zach Aysan.

If your company has a leaker, you can add zero-width spaces to sensitive documents — hidden in different places for each of the recipients.

Once the material is leaked, you can check it for zero-width spaces to find the identity of the leaker.

Send secret messages

You can use zero-width spaces to hide an encoded binary message in a piece of text. 

For instance: T​h​e​re is​ a ​h​i​d​d​e​n e​moji ​in ​th​i​s.

Zero-width space
HTML entity​UnicodeU+200B

Standing out online

While most of these tricks are only useful to web developers, there are a few scenarios where these characters could help you stand out on social media.

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