Using Non-Printing Characters

Non-printing characters are used to display formatting information within a document but do not appear when the document is printed or exported. Non-printing characters can be edited directly to adjust your document’s formatting as needed.

Understanding non-printing characters can be useful for solving formatting issues that may occur when you have copied and pasted information from another source into your document.

Showing Non-Printing Characters

By default, non-printing characters are hidden. To view these characters, go to the Edit tab and click the Show button. To toggle back to the default view, click the Hide button once more, and the characters will once more be hidden.

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Non-Printing Character Types

There are six types of non-printing characters, shown in detail below.


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A space character is created when you hit the spacebar while typing. It is represented as a non-printing character by a small dot.

Non-breaking space

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A non-breaking space character is created for text that you don't want separated, such as in the example above, when you may not want the month and date to separate into different lines and become potentially confusing to the reader. It is represented by a larger dot, and you may see it in HTML code as &nbsp.


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When you hit the Tab key and create tabs in your document, a non-printing character is created that looks like an arrow which fills the gap between the tabbed areas.

New Line

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When you hit the Return key on your keyboard and want to create a new line in a document, it creates a non-printing character that is known as New Line or a Carriage Return. It is represented by the symbol above, which is known as a Paragraph Pilcrow.

Keep With Next

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If you set an area of text in Paragraph Properties to Keep With Next, it will create a non-printing character to represent the area that looks like a small bracket in the margin between the two text areas.

Keep Lines Together

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You can also set an area in Paragraph Properties to Keep Lines Together, so that an area will stay together during section or page breaks. The non-printing character for this is a larger bracket in the margin, depicting the whole area that will stay together in a document.