5 Uses for a Non-Breaking Space

Have you ever seen the non-printing ° symbol and wondered what it was? You’re looking at a non-breaking space.
By using a non-breaking space, we can ensure that we don’t end up breaking a measurement up at the end of a line.

A non-breaking space has intentional and side benefits:

  1. Keep digits with their unit of measurement.
  2. Keep names from splitting over a line break.
  3. Keep long numbers from splitting over a line break.
  4. Identify content copied from a PDF or website.
  5. An easily searchable character for your compositor to replace.

To Find Non-Breaking Spaces

You don’t have to rely on your eyes alone. In the Find field, type ^s to search for non-breaking spaces. You can even pair this code with wildcards to quickly add non-breaking spaces between all digits and their units of measure, or in place of simple spaces in long numbers.

Compositors and others on the design team can use the non-breaking space as a placeholder for another character, often the thin space which Word cannot produce but which makes for elegant text design.

To Type a Non-Breaking Space

On a Mac: opt + spacebar

In Windows: ctrl + shift + spacebar

Troubleshooting

It’s not just plagiarism that makes an editor look for text copied from elsewhere. The non-breaking spaces in such pasted content can really mess up layout. I see these a lot in article titles in the bibliography or reference list. By changing those to regular spaces, we can save a lot of fixing in page proofs.

To show or hide these spaces and all non-printing characters, click the ¶ icon on the home ribbon.

A non-breaking space sometimes goes by the name of a fixed space or a hard space.

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition
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