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: Sticking with the Dashes.

Sticking with the Dashes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 15, 2018)

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As discussed in other issues of WordTips, en dashes and em dashes are "sticky" with the word that they follow, and cannot be made sticky with the word that follows the dash. Thus, if you have two words separated by an em dash, and the combination appears near the end of a line, Word will wrap from one line to the next right after the em dash; you cannot force Word to keep both words and their connecting dash on the same line.

There is one workaround you can use, however. Let's assume that you have two words (first and second) separated by an em dash, as in first—second. If you want these to always be together, follow these steps:

  1. Select the two words and the em dash.
  2. Press Ctrl+X to cut the text from the document and place it on the Clipboard.
  3. Press Ctrl+F9. Word inserts a set of field braces at the insertion point.
  4. Press Backspace and then Delete (or Delete and then Backspace) to get rid of the two spaces automatically inserted between the field braces.
  5. Type EQ followed by a space.
  6. Press Ctrl+V. Word pastes the two words separated by the em dash.
  7. Press Shift+F9 to display the results of the field.

The result is that the field now shows your two words separated by an em dash. The results of the field always appear on a single line, so the words and their dash will always be together. This approach works regardless of the type of dash between the two words.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3527) 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: Sticking with the Dashes.

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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What is eight more than 4?

2018-12-23 15:08:35

P. G. van Dijk

There is another, simpler way to move a dash to the next line. Use the space bar. Click the space bar until the dash jumps to the next line. Make two or three extra clicks to make sure. Of course this works only if the margins have been defined.


2018-12-15 12:08:46

Gil Croome

During my working career (I'm now happily retired), one of the house editorial style manuals that I used mandated that an EM dash should have a space before and after it. While the typesetting was being done in a print shop, we did not have to worry about how the dash was kept attached to the first word -- we just told the typesetter to do it! However, once "typesetting " was done copy editor/author's editor. We had to find a "fix". This as actually very simple, replace the space before the dash with a "hard" (non-breaking) space created with CTRL+SHIFT+SPACE to hold the first word and the dash together.


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