I’m writing my PhD thesis using Scrivener, and I’m handling text in multiple concurrently-used languages that are conventionally differentiated in my field by altered character spacing (so text in one language is written like this and the other l i k e t h i s ). However, manipulating character space rules is quite difficult an unintuitive in the current version of Scrivener, and hammering my space bar for hours on end messes up my word count and is just not feasible when I’m processing dozens of lines of text at a time. Word and Pages both have much more accessible ways of changing character spacing on the fly. I’d love to see the same kind of feature in a future version of Scrivener!
Select an expression that has the character spacing you want and then choose Format > Style > New Style From Selection… Set your style to Save Character Attributes (and probably uncheck the options to fix the font and size), name it what you will.
Your new character style can be applied/unapplied from the styles menu pop-up on the format toolbar or from the styles panel or from the Styles menu.
If you are on MacOS you can use System Preferences to assign it a handy keyboard shortcut. (You could also assign key commands there for the Tighten and Loosen commands, if you wanted.)
I coincur with @gr: use character styles for each individual language, but I wouldn’t bother with kerning in Scrivener. I’d give each style a particular colour or font and then use that to sort out the kerning in a word processor after compile. Word processors are WYSiWYG and page-oriented, so are intrinsically much better at that sort of thing.
I don’t have Word and only use Pages minimally, so I can’t comment on how to do it in those, but it’d be pretty straightforward to do in Nisus Writer Pro, whether through Find-n-Replace or through a Macro.
It may be a silly question, but would it not be possible to just use a different font for each language?
However you do it, using spaces could cause all sorts of problems.
I think the idea is that the use of character spacing (though not spaces) is actually a convention in the OP’s discipline.
To get altered character spacing, use the Format → Font → Character Spacing menu. Hammering the space bar, besides being annoying, is likely to cause all sorts of bad side effects: Scrivener won’t be able to count, spellcheck, or hyphenate such words correctly.