Word: Stop hyphens breaking over a line

October 25, 2010

I know. That sounds silly. Surely one of the uses of a hyphen is to break a word at the end of a line.

But sometimes you have a hyphen in a term that you DON’T want to break at the end of a line. For example, in some of the docs I’ve been working on, there are hyphenated license and permit numbers, such as W2345-98-P67. I want this string of numbers to stay together no matter what and I don’t want them to break if they hit the end of a line.

I’d never checked if I could do that, and had put up with the occasional instance of such a number splitting. Then a few days ago, a tip from Jeanne M Perdue’s Technical Writing Tips from the Oil Patch blog came into my Inbox — and there was the solution!

To insert a non breaking hyphen, hold down Ctrl+Shift as you press the hyphen key.

That’s it. With Ctrl+Shift+- a non breaking hyphen is inserted (it looks a little like a cross between a hyphen and an en dash) and all parts of your term will stay together.

Thanks Jeanne!

See also:

[Links last checked October 2010]


  1. Thank you! I’ve been trying to find out how to organize my resources page for a paper, and the teacher didn’t like how the hyphen made my URL look on the page (she’s a real stickler with that kind of stuff). You’re a life saver.

  2. Superb. Thank you!

  3. Absolutely Wonderful!!! I’d been looking under ‘office button–word options–advanced’ to find a way to prevent hyphenation for a similar situations, and found nothing to help. This most certainly worked for me! Thank yopu so very much, Jeanne!!!

  4. I had a co-worker ask me this. He said it is a recurring pet peeve of his. I easily found the solution here. THANKS!

  5. Is there a way to make it an en-dash rather than an em-dash?

    Our formatting guide is sufficiently specific that I’m likely to be penalised for the difference.

  6. Not as far as I know, at least, not with the standard keyboard commands. There may be a way to do it via a macro, but I wouldn’t know where to start with that. I suggest you ask your question on the Microsoft Community forum for Word users: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/word


  7. To make an en dash, hold Ctrl+ (num lock area) –

  8. Nope. It just generates an en dash instead of a hyphen. There’s a difference.

  9. If you want to change a bunch of breaking hyphens to non-breaking hyphens, Word’s Find and Replace feature can do this.

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