Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 19, 2020)

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 Office 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Checking for an Entry in a Cell

You may be looking for a way to have a formula determine if a particular cell has anything in it. Here's how you can find ...

Discover More

Changing the Axis Scale

When creating a chart, you may want to adjust the default scaling that Excel applies to an axis. This is relatively easy ...

Discover More

Clearing Large Clipboard Entries

Need to clear out a large amount of information saved on the Clipboard? All you need to do is to replace it with a small ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Talking to Yourself

Need to keep notes about a document, but you don't want others to see those notes either on-screen or on-paper? Here's an ...

Discover More

Inserting a Section Mark

Section marks are used regularly in the writings of some industries, such as in legal documents. If you need a way to ...

Discover More

Checking for a List of Phrases in a Document

Once you start amassing quite a few documents, it is not uncommon to want to change phrases commonly used in those ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 + 2?

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


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Videos
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.