These steps can also be used for hyphens. However, Word provides a built-in nonbreaking hyphen that is simpler to use than the process for dashes. See the bonus section at the end of this tutorial for the steps to insert a nonbreaking hyphen.
This tutorial is also available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
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The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365. These steps also apply to Word 2021, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.
Create a Nonbreaking Dash in Microsoft Word
1. Place your cursor where you want the dash to appear.
2. Select the Insert tab in the ribbon.
3. Select Symbol in the Symbols group.
4. Select More Symbols from the drop-down menu.
5. Select the Special Characters tab in the Symbol dialog box.
6. Select Em Dash (longer dash) or En Dash (shorter dash) from the Character menu.
7. Select the Insert button.
8. Select No-Width Non Break from the Character menu.
The no-width non break is a special character that can create an unbreakable connection between characters without creating a space between them.
9. Select the Insert button (see figure 7).
10. Select the Close button to close the Symbol dialog box.
Your new nonbreaking dash should now appear in your text.
Pro Tip: The no-width non break is invisible when your document’s formatting is hidden (which is the default setting). To view formatting, select the Show/Hide button in the Home tab. The no-width non break symbol looks like an open rectangle with a smaller, gray rectangle in the center.
Insert a Nonbreaking Hyphen in Microsoft Word
1. Place your cursor where you want to insert the nonbreaking hyphen.
2. Select the Insert tab in the ribbon (see figure 2)
3. Select Symbol in the Symbols group (see figure 3).
4. Select More Symbols from the drop-down menu (see figure 4).
5. Select the Special Characters tab in the Symbol dialog box (see figure 5).
6. Select Nonbreaking Hyphen from the Character menu.
7. Select the Insert button (see figure 7).
8. Select the Close button (see figure 9).
9. Type the word or number that you want to attach to the other side of the hyphen.
The nonbreaking hyphen will look like a normal hyphen. However, if you turn on Show/Hide, as described in the Pro Tip above, the nonbreaking hyphen will look slightly longer and thinner than a normal hyphen.
Pro Tip: You can also insert a nonbreaking hyphen by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + – (Control plus Shift plus hyphen).
Updated October 05, 2021