How to keep two words together on a single line

Remember typewriters? (Those of you too young to remember those, just skip this part. Please.) Every time you heard that little ding when you approached the right-hand margin, you knew you needed to reach up, hit that bar over on the left side, and return the platen to the left margin to start a new line.

Yes, it was a pain in the neck compared to typing on a word processor. But at least then you had total control over where the line break was. These days? Not so much.

But you can still stop awkward breaks — hyphenated words or other groups of words that need to appear together on a single line — with a quick three-key combination.

Stopping awkward hyphenation

The problem with putting a hyphenated word at the end of a line is that the line could break right at the hyphen character. In some instances (and for some people), this really isn’t a problem. But for others, it’s an irritation.

To prevent that from happening, you need a different kind of hyphen than the standard one you see on the keyboard right next to the number zero. You need a “soft hyphen” a.k.a. “nonbreaking hyphen.”

To put one of those babies in, just delete the hyphen you already have and, with your cursor still in place between the words you want hyphenated, press CTRL-SHIFT-HYPHEN (yes, that’s all at the same time, so you’ll need a little coordination to pull this off). The new “soft” hyphen will look the same as the old one, but it’ll never allow a line break in the middle ever again.

Keeping words together on a single line

What if you wanted to keep the words “unduly burdensome” on the same line, but the line broke naturally after “unduly”?

To do this, you need to insert a non-breaking space between the words “unduly” and “burdensome.” Just delete the existing regular space between the words and insert a non-breaking space by using CTRL-SHIFT-SPACE.

And here’s the result:

Notice how, when Show/Hide is turned on, the on-screen representation of a non-breaking space is different than the regular space character. The non-breaking one is an open circle, while the regular space is a dot.

But don’t worry. None of those little dots, solid or open, ever prints. They’re just the way that the Show/Hide feature represents the different space characters.

Be careful of Full Justification here!

If you’re controlling the line wrap of your paragraphs using either of these techniques, and your paragraphs are full-justified (meaning they have straight edges at the left and right margins), you’ll want to be careful you’re not wrapping too long a word to the next line. Otherwise your previous line will have a lot of extra space between/within words, which may look a little awkward.

Just use your best judgment. Happy wrapping!

(photo: petesimon @ Flickr

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About the Author

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.

Leave a Reply 13 comments

Libby Reply

I feel like I know a lot about Word, but I didn’t know this. Love the tips you share! Thanks.

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Cool — thanks for reading!

Chris Kane Reply

Thank you. I knew how to do this in Word Perfect and have wasted a lot of time trying to figure it out in Word.

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Oh, cool! I’m glad that helped.

Vanesah Reply

Thanks! I appreciate the help.

nsa Reply

but, no it is funny
it keep two word together on a single line, but it split the second word in 2 🙁
so… what can i do?

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Put hard spaces between the first and second words.

      nsa Reply

      sorry… i’m romanian. I don’t understant that expresion. Can you explain me what means “hard spaces” please 🙁
      …and how it’s done?

        Deborah Savadra Reply

        Sorry about that — “hard space” is another way of saying “non-breaking space” as described in the post above (insert using CTRL-SHIFT-SPACE).

nsa Reply

🙂 thank you for advices

Sanjeev Kumar Reply

I want to put a series of full stops/periods (to indicate a blank to be filled), but some full stops are wrapping in the next line of the para in MS Word 2013.

None of the solution given above is working in this case. Can you help?

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Why not use underscores instead of periods to denote a blank to be filled in? Underscores (like this: ____) will stay together on one line.

      Sanjeev Kumar Reply

      Thanks. The hyphens do stay together. And I may make use of them.

      But it was better if there was a way for dots too.

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