Microsoft Word Tricks: 3 Simple Ways to Keep Text Together

by Dawn Bjork, MCT, MOSM | The Software Pro

iaap-word-tricks

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, 2018
  • Christopher A. Jones, Ph.D.
  • (555) 123-4567
  • state-of-the-art

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 or styles 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 connects or “glues” 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:

  1. Select the paragraph or section of text you want to keep together.
  2. On the Home tab in Word, click the Paragraph group’s dialog launcher (the small arrow at the bottom-right of the group). Or, right-click on the selected text and then left-click on Paragraph.
  3. Pick the Line and Page Breaks
  4. Check the Keep lines together option and click OK.
  5. 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:

  1. On the Home tab, click the Find icon in the Editing group on the right or press the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl] + F.
  2. In the Navigation Pane to the left, enter one of the following: ^s to find non-breaking space; ^~ to find non-breaking hyphens.
  3. 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.

Find more Microsoft Word shortcuts, tips, and techniques at TheSoftwarePro.com/Word.


IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event. 

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Dawn Bjork is The Software Pro®, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), and is a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOSM) Master and Microsoft Office expert. Dawn is passionate about sharing smart and easy ways to increase your software productivity through her work as a technology speaker, software trainer, computer consultant, and author of nine books. Discover more software tips, techniques, and timesavers at TheSoftwarePro.com. Dawn also shares oodles of daily tips on Twitter and Facebook.

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