Word: Find non breaking hyphens

July 21, 2011

Guess what? Word changed how it displays non breaking hyphen between Word 2003 and Word 2007. The result is that in Word 2007 (and likely Word 2010 too) it’s almost impossible to distinguish a non breaking hyphen symbol from an en or em dash.

In Word 2003, the non breaking hyphen character had a little hook on the left edge, but that seems to be gone in Word 2007 and later. So how do you know if you’re looking at a dash of some sort or a true non breaking hyphen?

One way is to search for the non breaking hyphen symbol — this will show you which words it applies to:

  1. Open the Find and Replace dialog box (Ctrl+H).
  2. In the Find what field, type ^~ then click Find.
  3. Keeping clicking Find to find them all.

See also:

[Link last checked July 2011]


  1. in word 2013 you’d use ^-

  2. Hi Word 2013

    I tested in Word 2013 for Windows, and ^~ still searches for a nonbreaking hyphen (created with Ctrl+Shift+_), not ^-, which searches for an ‘optional hyphen’ created with Ctrl+-

    I haven’t got Word 2016 installed, so I can’t test that.


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