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What is a non breaking space?

Info by Collin McNeil | Last update on 2023-01-19 | Created on 2015-02-14

In typography, we distinguish between normal and none breaking spaces. However, you cannot see any difference between these two types of spaces on the printed paper. In both cases, there is just a certain distance between two words.

Although, you cannot identify the none breaking space at first glance, it is still important and has its place. It is a special blank character because it keeps both words together that are on the left and on the right of the whitespace. So,  two words that are connected with such a non-breaking space may not be separated from each other and always break together into the next line in case of a linebreak.

Examples of Use

Therefore, it always makes sense to use the non-breaking blank when there are two words or characters that are inextricably linked with each other. This applies, for example, in case of numbers or values with units or a percent sign. In this case, the non-breaking space would ensure that the number will never stand alone at the end of a line while the corresponding unit symbol is written at the beginning of the next line due to a line break at this point. Instead, number and unit will always stay together.

Other examples for the usage of non-breaking blanks are abbreviations such as "e. g.", laws such as "§ 10", currency data such as "100 €" or numbers written in blocks like "1 000 0000".

If you do not use the non-breaking space at such points, you run the risk that the text wraps ugly at these locations.

Typing a none breaking Space

The non-breaking space does not have an own key on the keyboard. Instead, when using Windows, you can hold down the ALT-key while entering the digits 0160 on the number keypad in order to insert a non-breaking space. When using Mac OS, usually, you can use the key combination ALT + SPACE.

More information about inserting non-breaking space characters, you can find here:

In addition to these programs specific advice, the key combination mentioned above, should work in almost all word processing programs.


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