Non‐breakable space justification in Word 2016

I heard that fixed width of non‐breakable space was removed in Word 2013, yet I have it in Word 2016. It means that non‐breakable space is not commiting to justifying rules and looks like a garbage while using justification. Is this a bug or a feature?
 

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Last updated November 19, 2018 Views 1,002 Applies to:

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Correction: Non-breaking spaces (i.e. ASCII 160) in Word 2013 & later have a variable width; in Word 2010 & earlier they have a variable width. Your document's justification will still work, but the results will vary according to which Word version you're using and, if it's Word 2013 & later, whether the document was created in an earlier version or with compatibility set for Word 2010 & earlier.

If the document:

• is opened in Word 2010 & earlier, the non-breaking spaces will have a fixed width regardless of the version the document was created in;

• is opened in Word 2013 & later and the document was created in an earlier version or with compatibility set for Word 2010 & earlier, the non-breaking spaces will have a fixed width; and

• is opened in Word 2013 & later and the document was created in Word 2013 & later using the Word 2013 & later defaults, the non-breaking spaces will have a variable width.

Cheers,
Paul Edstein
[MS MVP - Word]

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Non-breaking spaces (i.e. ASCII 160) in Word 2013 & later have a fixed width. Unless you're using non-breaking spaces alone, your document justification should still work.

…But the „fixed width” means that its width is constant, therefore not changing width with justification. There’s an example in Polish:


Whole text is justified, yet non‐breakable spaces (degree symbols, ASCII 160) don’t commit to justification rules. They have constant width, whereas ordinary spaces change their width as they are supposed to do. The issue is clearly visible in the second line of this example. I’ve read that this adverse behaviour was fixed in Office 2013, but I have it in Word 2016 MSO (16.0.4498.1000) 64‐bit.

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That's the whole point of them being fixed-width - which is the same as the characters that make up the words in your screenshot. If you want a variable-width non-breaking space, you could use the Narrow No-Break Space character (see Insert|Symbol>Unicode 202F). You could even create a keyboard shortcut for this (IIRC, Ctrl-Alt-Space is normally free).
Cheers,
Paul Edstein
[MS MVP - Word]

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That's the whole point of them being fixed-width - which is the same as the characters that make up the words in your screenshot. If you want a variable-width non-breaking space, you could use the Narrow No-Break Space character (see Insert|Symbol>Unicode 202F). You could even create a keyboard shortcut for this (IIRC, Ctrl-Alt-Space is normally free).
That’s unfortunate. Do you know why it works like that? I can’t even imagine why anybody would want to have non‐breaking spaces with constant width. If they have variable‐width property they behave in every context – not just without justified text.

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That’s unfortunate. Do you know why it works like that?

For compliance with international standards on how the character should function...
Cheers,
Paul Edstein
[MS MVP - Word]

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For compliance with international standards on how the character should function...

Well, I don’t really know what „international standards” do you mean. For example, QuarkXPress have variable‐width for non‐breaking space (UTF U+00A0) at least since 1997, InDesign also have it. I’ve read that Word also have it from 2013 version, but it turned out to be exact opposite.

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Many programs, including Word, employed ASCII 160 for variable-width non-breaking spaces long before standards such as HTML & CSS even existed. When those standards came into force, ASCII 160 was defined as a fixed-width non-breaking space. Since Word can create documents that are used in that environment, MS decided to update Word's behaviour to conform. It's been that way for at least 4 years now. The mere fact certain other software companies haven't gone down this path hardly invalidates what MS has done.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-breaking_space

Cheers,
Paul Edstein
[MS MVP - Word]

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When those standards came into force, ASCII 160 was defined as a fixed-width non-breaking space.

…Or wasn’t it? Look at this example: https://www.w3schools.com/code/tryit.asp?filename=FIZKXP457KBC
There are non‐breaking spaces surronding word „my”, yet they have variable‐width, not fixed‐width.

EDIT: I changed the link which wasn’t pointing to the correct example. Sorry!

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Works as specified for me...

PS: It's a bit churlish to unmark an 'answer' that's actually correct.

Cheers,
Paul Edstein
[MS MVP - Word]

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Works as specified for me...

PS: It's a bit churlish to unmark an 'answer' that's actually correct.

What do you mean? I gave you an example which have non‐breaking spaces working like they have variable‐width, whereas in Word 2016 they have fixed‐width. Just copy and paste it to Word without changing formatting to see it for your own. So how exactly does Word commit to todays standards of CSS and HTML? As you can see, browsers give ASCII 160 (or UTF U+00A0) variable‐width, not fixed‐width. It’s Word‐only behaviour.

And while I undestand that it was there for a while* and changing it would be a disaster for some long‐term users, there should atleast be an option to set the behaviour of non‐breaking space per document. It’s commonly expected that non‐breaking space would have a variable‐width property.

*I found out that your answer was incorrect, because Word uses ASCII 160 as an replacement for old hard‐space since its very beginning. It might have changed for a brief moment in Word 2013, but here we are back at it.

As of PS: Well, I unmarked it, because I realised that Narrow No‐Break Space character hasn’t the same width that standard space and cannot be used in given context. It’s some kind of a workaround, but not a fix and it doesn’t resolve my issue.

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