When a long word or phrase hits the right margin, trouble often follows. Word treats the long text as a single word and wraps it to the next line, leaving a large gap at the right margin in the preceding line. It’s ugly and I see it a lot.

Perhaps the easiest way to resolve the above problem is to add a hyperlink to the existing text instead of displaying the actual URL, but suppose you don’t have that option. Fortunately, you can help Word break a long group of connected characters by inserting a no-width optional break (or several). You can’t see the character(s), but Word reacts to one as if it were a space.

To insert this character, do the following:

  1. Position the cursor where you want to insert the character. For instance, you might insert a character after each slash in the URL.
  2. Click the Insert tab and click Symbol in the Symbols group. Select More Symbols to launch the Symbol dialog box. In Word 2003, you’ll find Symbol on the Insert menu.
  3. Click the Special Characters tab.
  4. Highlight No-Width Optional Break.
  5. Click Insert.

You can’t tell by looking at the URL that there’s anything there, but there is. I inserted one after the double-slash and each single slash. To see the optional breaks, click the Home tab and then click Show/Hide in the Paragraph group. The optional breaks appear as small rectangles. Word uses these characters to break the URL at reasonable positions, and you control what those positions are.

The URL is just the example text. You can use this optional break character to break any type of connected text, not just URLs.