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Sign with Plenk in front of three exclamation marks on the last line

Plenk (from the English blank for " (the) space ") referred to in network jargon a typographically incorrectly set space before a punctuation or word characters (this includes, for example, point , point , exclamation point and question mark or dash and cut-off point); the use contradicts the spelling .

Following the regulations for the German language , spaces are not placed in front of the question mark or the exclamation mark, unlike, for example, in French (see below ).

Space before punctuation marks in English, however, required in an indent in the opening parenthesis and ellipsis , provided that for at least stand a whole word (see also ellipse ), as well as a hyphen when it is preceded by a word part to a the content to represent after repeating part of the word (example: production and sale of goods)


Plenks often lead to undesirable effects with automatic line breaks by programs that do not implement Annex UAX # 14 of the Unicode specification or implement it incorrectly, as the following example shows:

  • Here comes the text. I think
    I'm plotting! You think you plink

Here the expression is torn apart, distorting the meaning:

  • Today we eat cauliflower soup.
  • Hans is a graduate engineer.

In the last example, the hyphen is also replaced by a dash, see below .

Word origin and history

The word Plenk is a corruption of an English word for spaces, blank . It was introduced in the MausNet around 1988 by Johannes “Jödel” Leckebusch ; Since the mid-1990s, Plenk has also been a fixed term in the German-language Usenet .

Formally and linguistically , Plenk is a word formation based on loan word formation .

Plenk himself gave rise to the complementary term Klemp .

Special case brackets

Often a space is placed after both an opening and a closing bracket. This is wrong; the space only belongs in front of the opening and after the closing bracket (unless it is followed by a punctuation mark).

However, if the lack of a space that is actually not allowed in front of a closing bracket would lead to a distortion of the meaning, it may be set:

  • If a sentence in brackets is closed with a smiley , the two brackets (the first from the smiley, the second from the set of brackets) would not be distinguishable (a smiley with two brackets is also a valid smiley variant). In this case, a space between the smiley face and the closing bracket is possible if the separation is not made by means of ellipses or similar. he follows.
  • It is often necessary to put spaces in front of closing brackets (but not after opening ones) if there is a hyperlink in front of the closing bracket , but the bracket should not be part of the link. Many instant messengers and other programs that make typed hyperlinks clickable incorrectly add the bracket to the hyperlink. A space is a pragmatic solution to severing the bracket. For example, the message is sent like this:Das Programm nimmt eine Eingabe an (siehe ), die es verarbeitet.

Plumbing and word processing

In word processing programs like LibreOffice and Microsoft Word will automatically default creates enclosed by two spaces by a dash en dash replaced (dash). As a result, Plenken can lead to completely misleading spellings.

French language

In contrast to German and English , in French - but not in French-speaking Switzerland - the use of a space in front of the question mark ( ? ), Exclamation mark ( ! ), Colon ( :) and semicolon ( ; ) in the font is mandatory. In addition, there is a space after opening ( « ) and before closing ( » ) quotation marks ( guillemets ) . This rule also applies to combinations of punctuation marks: «Quoi? »

A non-breaking space is used to prevent unwanted line breaks . Alternatively, programs can be used that carry out the break according to the Unicode line break algorithm , which in this case prevents a break even when a normal space is used. If the use of a non-breaking space is not possible, the same applies to French that no space is to be used. If there are different space widths, only half a space is often placed in front of the semicolon.

In the case of typographically correct typesetting, the above characters with quarter squares are excluded, whereby the font size is not yet taken into account.

The peculiarity is related to the French typographical tradition: A great many italics were used in early prints ; in addition, the graph f at the end of a word is more common than in other languages. This always creates a distance (from the foot of the f) to the point or comma, which is then implemented in the same way for the other punctuation marks.

In French-speaking Switzerland, the typographical rules of Switzerland are used, which - except for the colon : - do not have spaces in front of the punctuation marks mentioned above (see also quotation marks # Switzerland, Liechtenstein, France ).


  • Andrea me demanda: «As-tu lu‹ Le Tambour ›de Grass? »(France)
  • Andrea me demanda: «As-tu lu‹ Le Tambour ›de Grass?" (Switzerland)


Missing spaces on a memorial plaque in Harbin (China)

Complementary to Plenk, the lack of a space after a punctuation mark or word mark - again especially in net jargon - is referred to as Klemp and is typographically just as incorrect as Plenk (see below for exceptions).

Concept emergence

The word Klemp is - like Plenk - a loan word formation (from the English word clamp for screw clamp , which is related to the German word Klammer ); in the sense that it puts two words too close together). On the other hand, the choice fell on this word formation because it is the consonant reversal of Plenk (with adapted pronunciation: -np- becomes -mp- ). The complementarity of the two terms is reflected both orthographically and phonetically (interchanging p and k).

Omitting such a space is referred to in derivation as jamming .

Exceptions tolerated in practice

Omitting a typographically correct space is sometimes done deliberately, especially in order to save characters , for example, when the number of characters is restricted . Examples:

  • Messages sent via microblogging services (e.g. Twitter ) can usually not contain more than 280 characters.
  • A short message in the cellular network contains a maximum of 160 characters. With cell phone models that can send so-called multi-SMS (Concatenated Message) , this technical restriction has become largely unnecessary, but from a billing perspective, each partial SMS is counted as an SMS.

In cases like the ones mentioned, a plumber is usually tolerated, even if it is still considered typographically "ugly".

Chinese and Japanese writing systems

In the Chinese and Japanese writing systems, no spaces are normally used before and after punctuation marks. The background to this is that punctuation marks generally take up the same square space ( ems ) as a character and, within this space, may be on the left or right edge. The rest of the square then remains empty, which looks like a small space. Punctuation marks such as dots ( . ), Comma ( , ) and closing brackets ( ) ) are thereby left open parentheses ( ( ) right within their quadrangle. Therefore, writers with a corresponding cultural background sometimes have a tendency to get stuck in the Latin writing system .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Plenk  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Unicode 5.2: UAX # 14: Line Breaking Properties
  2. Example: Swiss Federal Chancellery, Instructions de la Chancellerie fédérale sur la présentation des textes officiels en français ( Memento of March 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on November 5, 2015