Inline markup within words in reStructuredText

Posted on Wed 12 August 2020 in programming

I often write documentation with reStructuredText and Sphinx. Sometimes I want to refer to the plural of some programming concept, where the concept is monospace font but the plural form is in the normal font, e.g. lists.

While this is easy to do in markdown:


It is less apparent in rst.

rST markup output comment
``list``s ``list``s first attempt
``list`` s list s note the space after list, even though it's barely noticeable on my own site
``list``\ s lists need to escape the space!

💡 The key is to escape the space after the end-string of the inline markup.

This applies to italic font, bold font, etc. in addition to the inline literal (monospace) blocks.

The operative part of the spec:

Inline markup start-strings and end-strings are only recognized if the following conditions are met:


7. Inline markup end-strings must end a text block or be immediately followed by

  • whitespace,
  • one of the ASCII characters - . , : ; ! ? \ / ' " ) ] } >
  • or a similar non-ASCII punctuation character. [14]

Have you found another way to do this? Let me know in the comments.