Adding Many No-Width Optional Breaks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 14, 2013)

3

Beginning in Word 2000, Microsoft introduced a new character called the no-width optional break. This character has been discussed in other issues of WordTips; for English documents it can be used to wrap long or compound words at non-standard places. For instance, it could be used to add an optional break after a slash character.

If you want to use the no-width optional break in a document that has lots of slashes, you may wonder if there is a way to do a find and replace to add the special character. The short answer is "yes, there is." Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  3. In the Find What box, enter the slash.
  4. In the Replace With box, enter a slash and then hold down the Alt key as you type 8203 on the numeric keypad. You'll see a little box appear after the slash.
  5. Click Replace All.
  6. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.

Holding down the Alt key as you type 8203 on the numeric keypad inserts the Unicode character for the no-width optional break. After performing all the steps, your document is set to do an optional break after any slash character.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3903) applies to Microsoft Word 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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 six more than 9?

2018-03-28 10:12:49

Neman Syed

Hi. A tip on the tip: It's 8204, not 8203 according to Word's macro recorder.

Selection.InsertSymbol CharacterNumber:=8204, Unicode:=True, Bias:=0

Allen's not kidding about using the numeric keypad. I have a laptop with an external USB numeric keypad, and that behaves the same as using the top row numbers - in other words, it doesn't work. You must use the alternate character number keys. (In my HP and ThinkPad cases, I use Fn+key, so ALT-Fn-8kmu is the same as ALT-8204 on a regular full-size keyboard.)


2014-09-08 13:38:55

Carole

Hi Andrew, I had the same problem. I wanted to replace all my "no-width optional breaks" in my Amazon book because the breaks were showing up as squares. I wanted to replace all of these breaks/squares but couldn't find the proper MS Word symbol to use in the Find/Replace function. After some Internet searching, I finally found the required symbol: ^o (that's the small alphabet letter "o" not the number). Here's a great website for MS Word symbols: http://makeofficework.com/searching.htm


2014-06-06 16:05:17

Andrew

How would I get this to work for Word 2010? ALT + 8203 puts in a slash-like symbol that is different from the "No-Width Optional Break," and it doesn't work in the Find and Replace box. Do you know the encoding that will allow Find and Replace with a "no-width optional break"? For example, to replace a hard return, "^p" represents a paragraph symbol.


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