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Inserting a Non-Breaking Hyphen

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Inserting a Non-Breaking Hyphen.

When Word calculates line length and wraps text to the next line, it tries to break the line at a space or a hyphen—a dash. Sometimes, however, you may not want Word to break a line at a dash. For instance, dashes are used in telephone numbers, and you might not want a line to break in the middle of a telephone number.

The answer to this dilemma is to use non-breaking hyphens instead of regular dashes when you don't want Word to break a line at the hyphen. To do this, hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys as you type the dash (this is the same as typing Ctrl and an underscore). Word will then not break the line at that point.

You can also insert a non-breaking hyphen by following these steps:

  1. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Symbol tool (in the Symbols group) and then click More Symbols. Word displays the Insert Symbol dialog box.
  3. Click on the Special Characters tab. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Special Characters tab of the Symbol dialog box.

  5. Highlight the Nonbreaking Hyphen character.
  6. Click on Insert.
  7. Close the dialog box by clicking on Cancel.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (29) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Inserting a Non-Breaking Hyphen.

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Comments for this tip:

Jay de Silva    01 Nov 2015, 18:52
The above procedure (or Word's Ctrl+Shift+_) inserts a non-breaking en-dash, much longer than a dash or hyphen.

I have been trying to get Microsoft to use Alt+0173, which inserts a proper non-breaking hyphen, but of course they do not listen.
Bill Hull    01 Sep 2015, 11:41
When viewing a document, how do I tell if a hyphen is non-breaking? Show/Hide does not seem to do it.

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