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Overview of special characters

Do you wish to avoid post-formatting work and corrections of translated files where some terms or words are separated inconveniently?

Then you should take a closer look at non-breaking spaces and special hyphens and other special characters!

Special space characters

Spaces of different width

For typographic purposes, word processing programs offer spaces of various widths. The naming is based on an old typographical unit of measurement: the quad

The following table summarizes the most important spaces and explains  their function and how to enter them:

SpaceUnicodeKeyboard inputShortcut in WordShortcut in IndesignShortcut in FramemakerNon-breaking space
Normal space
(four-per-em space)
Non-breaking space
(four-per-em space)
No-break space
CTRL Shift SpaceCTRL Shift SpaceCTRL Alt XCTRL Space
En quadEn space
CTRL Shift NEsc s n
Em quadEm space
CTRL Shift NEsc s m
Six-per-em spaceSix-per-em space
Narrow, non-breaking spaceNarrow No-Break Space U+202FEsc s t

A detailed overview is provided by Rotkel

There you can also find keystrokes for special spaces and operating systems.

Special separation options

You can use special characters for hyphenation to

  • Prevent a break between 2 words/characters that are linked by a hyphen
  • Hyphenate at the desired position in the word
  • Suppress hyphenation
HyphenUnicodeKeyboard inputShortcut in WordShortcut in IndesignShortcut in FramemakerFunction
Non-breaking hyphenNon-breaking hyphen
CTRL Shift –CTRL Shift –CTRL Alt –Esc – wPrevents line break
Soft hyphenCtrl –CTRL Shift –Ctrl –Hyphenation takes place at marked position (if necessary)
Suppress hyphenation symbolEsc n sNo hyphenation for marked word

Use of non-breaking spaces and hyphens

Non-breaking spaces and hyphens are special characters that do what their name says: they prevent the line break between the characters/words to keep certain strings and/or words together on a line.

This makes sense, for example, if you do not want a line break in the middle of a company name such as PRODOC Translations GmbH or the name of a standard such as DIN EN ISO 13849‑1.

Special characters for pagination control – Screenshot of the effect

Other special characters


The ellipsis should always be used instead of 3 consecutive points. Three points create a new segment in the CAT tool, resulting in invalid entries for the translation memory.

Entering ellipsis

The ellipsis character is entered in Windows with the key combination Alt+0131.

Use special characters for technical translations

During technical translation, non-breaking spaces and hyphens are retained. You no longer need to pay attention to unwanted line breaks in names/range specifications etc. in your final layout of the translated document, as line breaks are automatically controlled by non-breaking characters.

We check all documents for optimal formatting before starting a translation. If we find problem areas, we point them out to our customers. They then have the choice of carrying out the optimization themselves or entrusting us with it, alternatively. Many customers make use of the service provided by us

Request a translation quote now!
Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Weimar

Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Weimar

Managing Director

Optimize documents with special characters prior to translation

If the use of non-breaking hyphens and spaces is consistently taken into account during the creation of the technical documentation, a lot of work is saved after the translation.

Especially with multilingual translations, the formatting effort only occurs once – in the source language document.

You can find further information on optimizing documents for technical translation here:

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Adobe Framemaker

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Adobe InDesign

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Microsoft Word

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