Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Sticking with the Dashes.

Sticking with the Dashes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 19, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


2

As discussed in other issues of WordTips, en dashes and em dashes are "sticky" with the word that they follow and cannot be made sticky with the word that follows the dash. Thus, if you have two words separated by an em dash, and the combination appears near the end of a line, Word will wrap from one line to the next right after the em dash; you cannot force Word to keep both words and their connecting dash on the same line.

There is one workaround you can use, however. Let's assume that you have two words (first and second) separated by an em dash, as in first—second. If you want these to always be together, follow these steps:

  1. Select the two words and the em dash.
  2. Press Ctrl+X to cut the text from the document and place it on the Clipboard.
  3. Press Ctrl+F9. Word inserts a set of field braces at the insertion point.
  4. Press Backspace and then Delete (or Delete and then Backspace) to get rid of the two spaces automatically inserted between the field braces.
  5. Type EQ followed by a space.
  6. Press Ctrl+V. Word pastes the two words separated by the em dash.
  7. Press Alt+F9 to display the results of the field.

The result is that the field now shows your two words separated by an em dash. The results of the field always appear on a single line, so the words and their dash will always be together. This approach works regardless of the type of dash between the two words.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9488) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Sticking with the Dashes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is seven minus 5?

2020-11-23 13:19:31

Jeanie Woodruff

@Susan,

That's a great tip. I made up a quick macro to insert the no-width non break character before and after any one character that follows the cursor. I assigned it to my Quick Access tool bar for, you know, quick access.

Sub NoBreak()
'
' NoBreak Macro
' Adds no-width/non-break character before and after a character to prevent the line from breaking on either side of the character.
'
Selection.InsertSymbol CharacterNumber:=8205, Unicode:=True, Bias:=0
Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
Selection.InsertSymbol CharacterNumber:=8205, Unicode:=True, Bias:=0
End Sub


2020-09-19 14:09:15

Susan

Another option is to take advantage of the “No-Width Non Break” found by navigating to Insert > Symbol > More Symbols, Special Characters tab. There is no assigned shortcut key. This special character is a nonprinting formatting mark, so activate Show/Hide (Ctrl-*) if necessary.

[nb] = No-Width Non Break

first[nb]—[nb]second


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