I'm having trouble with keeping "units" on the same line, or together. For example, g C m-2 (grams of carbon per square meter) often gets broken between the "-" and "2". I realize it's possible to use non-breaking spaces, but this doesn't help in this situation because there aren't spaces between "-" and "2". Any ideas?

I'm using Microsoft Word 2007 on a PC (and mac). Apologies if this is not an appropriate question for this site.

  • Sorry about the weird tagging accident there. Not sure how that happened, but fixed now. May 1, 2014 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


I believe you need a nonbreaking hyphen. It'll keep the characters before and after it from breaking across lines. From Butterick's Practical Typography:

Your word proces­sor as­sumes that any hy­phen marks a safe place to flow the text onto a new line or page. Sim­i­lar to the non­break­ing space, the non­break­ing hy­phen looks iden­ti­cal to a hy­phen but will not be used as a place for a line break or page break.

In Word 2007 for Windows, Press CTRL+SHIFT+HYPHEN. On Word for Mac 2010, press command-shift-dash or Insert > Symbol > Advanced Symbol.

  • Ahh! I feel silly now, I wasn't even thinking of the "minus sign" as a hyphen...
    – derelict
    Apr 29, 2014 at 19:30
  • 2
    That works in Word 2003 and 2013 for Windows also. Just to avoid the inevitable question, the same problem and same solution applies if the -2 is superscripted.
    – dmm
    Apr 30, 2014 at 12:18
  • Yes, thank you. I edited my units to superscripts, as it should be.
    – derelict
    Apr 30, 2014 at 20:10

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