Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Automatic Non-breaking Spaces in Dates.

Automatic Non-breaking Spaces in Dates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 7, 2012)

When you enter a date into a document, it would be very handy for Word to automatically place a non-breaking space between the month and the day of the month. Thus, "January 22" would have a non-breaking space between the "y" and the "2". In this way, the month and day would always appear together on the same line.

Unfortunately, Word doesn't do this by default. This means that you have several different ways you can use Word's built-in tools to solve the situation.

The first possible solution is to try using Word's AutoCorrect feature. This feature is not well suited for doing this task, however. Why? Because AutoCorrect only kicks in after Word figures you are finished with a word—in other words, when you type the space after the word or some other terminating character, such as a punctuation mark. Thus, if you wanted to replace "January" with "January" followed by a non-breaking space, you would actually end up with two spaces after the word—the non-breaking space in the replacement text and the space you typed in the course of, well, typing.

This brings us to the next potential solution—AutoText. This solution actually can work very well, but it requires some differences in how you type dates. The best solution is to create 12 AutoText entries, each saved under the three-character name of the 12 months. Thus, the entry for "jan" would be "January" followed by a non-breaking space.

Why use three characters instead of more? Because Word has another feature called AutoComplete. (You see the control for this if you choose Tools | AutoCorrect | AutoText. It is the top check box on that tab.) If AutoComplete is turned on, then Word tries to "guess" what you are typing and suggest the rest of the word or phrase. It does this automatically for dates, but it doesn't kick in until you type the fourth character in a month that is longer than five characters. Thus, Word suggests "January" as a completion when you type "Janu", but it won't suggest "March" as a completion when you type "Marc".

If you use three characters for your month-and-non-breaking-space combination, then you can type "Jan" and press F3, resulting in the desired combination, without extra spaces. The change in how you type, of course, is that you must remember to only type three characters and then press F3.

If you don't like to remember such changes in how to type, you can easily create a macro that will go through a document and replace any spaces following a month name with a non-breaking space. The following is very handy for this purpose:

Sub MonthsWithNonBreakingSpaces()
    Dim sMonth As String
    Dim iMonth As Integer

    Selection.HomeKey unit:=wdStory
    For iMonth = 1 To 12
        With Selection.Find
            .ClearFormatting
            .Text = "(" & MonthName(iMonth, False) & ")( )([0-9])"
            .MatchWildcards = True
            With .Replacement
                .ClearFormatting
                .Text = "\1^s\3"
            End With
            .Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
        End With
    Next iMonth
End Sub

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1749) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Automatic Non-breaking Spaces in Dates.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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