Computer Tips: Returns, hard and soft

January 28, 2010: Issue 325

Many happy returns

When you copy text from an e-mail into a Word document, you often get soft returns instead of hard returns at the ends of paragraphs. Soft returns don’t produce paragraph indents or before-paragraph spacing, and they won’t let you select a paragraph with a triple click.

To see the difference in Word, type apple-8. Hard returns show up as paragraph marks. Soft returns show up as left-pointing arrows.

You can change soft returns to hard returns with a Find and Replace. Find ^l (lowercase L) and replace it with ^p.

Give us a “no break”

While we’re on the subject of returns, please don’t use hard or soft returns to force line breaks in layouts. If you do, later edits might create awkward spacing or partial lines of type. To keep two words together on a line, use a nonbreaking space: apple-option-x. To keep a single word from breaking, use the “no break” command: Highlight the word, go to the pulldown menu at the far right side of your toolbar, and select “No Break.”

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