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With ~ we can enforce that no line break occures between two words.

But this does not seem to work with special characters. I want LaTeX to enforce not to break the line after the - in (re-)creation.

In my document the line breaks between (re- and )creation, which looks a bit ugly.

How can I achieve this?

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Have a look at this. – Marc van Dongen Mar 21 '13 at 12:44
As I wrote here: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/8613811#8613811 , this is not exactly a duplicate. What about reopening? – mbork Mar 21 '13 at 14:54
If you use babel you could also use the babel shortcut "~ provided for most languages. For the others see babel: Adding ngerman' s language shorthands to english as the main document language. – Speravir Mar 22 '13 at 0:51
up vote 31 down vote accepted

If you put it in a mbox, it can't get broken up:


But that means it can't get broken up anywhere in the word!

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When I use that, it allows the word to overflow the margins. Is there a way to force it (all) to a new line, if it doesn't fit? – Adam_G Feb 8 '15 at 16:59

I am not sure now why (re-\nobreak)creation does not work, but (re\mbox{-}\nobreak)\nobreak\hspace{0pt}creation does, and does not prevent hyphenation of "creation". (Also, (re\mbox{-)}\nobreak\hspace{0pt}creation is maybe less elegant, but also correct.)

Of course, you might want to have a macro for that, for example:

\newcommand{\optprefix}[2]{% optional prefix

Notice that this macro allows for hyphenation of the prefix (in this case the prefix is just "re", so it does not make sense in this particular case).

Edit: as egreg pointed out in the comments, (re-\nobreak)creation won't work because the hyphen creates a "feasible breakpoint" (that is, a place in which TeX may break the line), and \nobreak comes after that breakpoint, so does not interfere with it. After \mboxing, the breakpoint lands in the box, and is effectively "hidden" from the paragraph-breaking routine.

Now \nobreak\hspace{0pt} has the effect of creating a (zero-width) "inter-word space", so that what comes after it is a new word for TeX (and hence it may consider hyphenating it). However, \nobreak makes sure that this "zero-width interword space" will not be a feasible breakpoint itself.

Also, as egreg pointed out in his comment, one might consider saying


so that you can write just \optprefix{re}creation, or even


which would also allow \optprefix{re} creation - though I personally wouldn't use that, since it is one word and imho should "look like one word" in the source, too.

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The "unprotected" hyphen in (re-\nobreak)creation creates a feasible break point after it, so the \nobreak has no effect. There is no break point in (re\mbox{-})creation. If you want to enable hyphenation in the main word, then (re\mbox{-})\nobreak\hspace{0pt}creation is the right thing to do; the \nobreak means that the following (zero) glue can't be taken as a break point, but the scanning for hyphenation can take place in creation that's a "new" word to TeX because it comes after glue. – egreg Mar 22 '13 at 0:40
Why not \newcommand{\optprefix}[1]{(#1\mbox{-})} to be called as \optprefix{re}creation? Or even \newcommand{\optprefix}[1]{(#1\mbox{-})\ignorespaces} that would allow \optprefix{re} creation? – egreg Mar 22 '13 at 0:45
@egreg: thanks. I didn't have my copy of The TeXbook, and frankly speaking, didn't remember these details by heart... – mbork Mar 22 '13 at 10:30
Maybe you can edit your answer to add the information. – egreg Mar 22 '13 at 10:36
I'll do it in the afternoon - now I'll have to log out from the computer and take care of my daughter;). – mbork Mar 22 '13 at 10:42

Do not reinvent the wheel – there is a package for that

It is called the extdash package and adds multiple commands for new behaviour with dashes.

Important: load this package as the very last package (even after hyperref)

Add the shortcuts option: \usepackage[shortcuts]{extdash} if you want to use \-/ instead of \Hyphdash. More details at https://www.ctan.org/pkg/extdash.

You can then use new dashes to control breaking behaviour of words with dashes.

Standard LaTeX dashes

  • - Standard LaTeX hyphen
  • -- Standard LaTeX en-dash
  • --- Standard LaTeX em-dash

extdash breakable dashes

Words hyphened with these dashes can also be broken at other positions than the dash

  • \-/ hyphen
  • \-- en-dash
  • \--- en=m-dash

extdash unbreakable dashes

No line breaks possible at the hyphen

  • \=/ hyphen
  • \== en-dash
  • \=== em-dash

Useful for expressions like $x$\=/axis or $x$\=/$y$\=/plane or your question ;)

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Then just use ‑ (U+2011) instead of - (U+002D) before the closing parenthesis. This means you can now write (re‑)creation.

If this does not work for you, @dessert reports that a combination of this Dmitry’s answer works:


Which one to use seems to depend on the version of babel you use, and how you use it.


I was looking for this as well, but as a more generic solution, and so far, the answers I found all do not satisfy me. I do have the german Babel package included, but "~ just typeset a double-quote followed by a space for me (and, in fact, I think I prefer double quotes to render as quote characters).

I looked at Unicode, and ‑ U+2011 NON-BREAKING HYPHEN appears to be what I want. Apparently, Xe(La)TeX already supports this, but we use pdflatex (directly in one project, via maven-latex-plugin in another), so that was out.

This pointed me into the correct direction though: I already knew about \newunicodechar so I thought I could just make U+2011 available. My first attempt was…

% does not work

… to just define it to the hyphen, but it does not work like that. So, after reading some answers here, I tried…

% throws an error message

… but \nobreakdash is not known, apparently. Finally, I tried…

% works for me

… and voilà, I can typeset “(Maschinen‑)Benutzernamen” without the ugly separation and the automatic hyphenation makes this into “(Maschinen-)Benut-⏎zernamen” which is just perfect. Even better, when copy/pasting from the PDF, you get an actual - U+002D HYPHEN-MINUS, which makes things like \texttt{<!‑‑} to get <!-- (for XML comments) work.

(Note: I merged my answers to several questions in this answer then copied it to these other questions, so don’t wonder if it shows up in three places.)

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+1 for making the correct Unicode character useable! -\nolinebreak\hspace{0pt} did not work for me, but \babelhyphen{nobreak} from Dmitry's answer did, and of course it can be copied just as well. – dessert Mar 24 at 15:24
Thanks @dessert I merged this into my “tl;dr” part. – mirabilos Mar 24 at 19:07

If you use babel 3.9 (or newer) package:

\def\={\babelhyphen{nobreak}} % inserts a hyphen without a break after it 
                              % but allows breaks in the rest of the word

$\gamma$\=tocopherol can be found in corn oil, soybean oil, margarine, and dressings.
share|improve this answer
Be careful, this silently overwrites LaTeX's macron function (\={a} producing ā). An at least by plain LaTeX unassigned macro name and a definition with \newcommand is the way to go. However, thank you for bringing \babelhyphen{nobreak} into the discussion, this is a good way. +1 for that! – dessert Mar 24 at 15:15

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