Most of the time, we want text in a Microsoft Word document to automatically wrap, that is, to move to the next line when it is too long to fit on one line. Word wrap is great except when it breaks up text we want to stay together such as dates, names, phone numbers, phrases, formulas, titles or other text that should remain together on the same line. Fortunately, Word has some easy ways to keep text together.
Some examples of text you might want to keep together and not break up on separate lines:
- September 2, 2017
- Christopher A. Jones, Ph.D.
- (555) 123-4567
Your options for keeping text together in Microsoft Word include:
- Non-breaking spaces
- Non-breaking hyphens
- Non-breaking paragraphs & lines
Non-Breaking Spaces & Non-Breaking Hyphens
The common solution: what most people do to keep text together is move to the beginning of the text and press [Enter] to start a new line. This is fine until any of the text changes and causes breaks in the wrong place. And, this doesn’t work well if you have paragraph formatting that adds space between paragraphs.
The right solution: keep text together with special characters. Specifically, replace normal spaces and hyphens with non-breaking spaces or non-breaking hyphens:
- Non-breaking space: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Spacebar]
- Non-breaking hyphen: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [Hyphen]
As the name implies, non-breaking characters connect the text together and it will all automatically move to the next line together but only as needed.
To view non-breaking space and hyphen characters in a document, click Show/Hide in the Paragraph group (Home tab). Word represents non-breaking space characters with a degree symbol (°) and non-breaking hyphen characters with a double‑length hyphen (these are a bit harder to distinguish from regular text).
Non-Breaking Paragraphs and Lines
Next, let’s go one step further. When you don’t want a paragraph or even several lines of text to break between two pages, try the following Word tricks:
- Select the paragraph or section of text you want to keep together.
- On the Home tab in Word, click the Paragraph group’s dialog launcher (the small arrow at the bottom-right.
- Pick the Line and Page Breaks
- Check the Keep lines together option, and click OK.
- If you have multiple paragraphs selected, for instance, a title with following text, also click on Keep with next which will keep the paragraphs together on the same page.
Bonus Word Tricks
To find non-breaking spaces and non-breaking hyphens in your text, use the Find feature as follows:
- On the Home tab, click the Find icon in the Editing group on the right or press the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl] + F.
- In the Navigation Pane to the left, enter one of the following: ^s to find non-breaking space; ^~ to find non-breaking hyphens.
- Use the Navigation Pane to move through the results.
Make sure you have the Show/Hide non-printing characters features turned on so you can see the hidden characters for these non-breaking symbols.
Discover more Microsoft Word shortcuts, tips, and techniques here.
By Dawn Bjork, MCT, The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer, Technology Speaker, Software Consultant