sepdek December 3, 2013
non breaking spaces shown

Quite often I have to read texts, papers and theses of students in order to review them and make corrections and suggestions. In many such cases I face the problem of texts with unequal word spacing and huge white-space areas that really looks bad. See the following image for an example (text taken from


In 99% of these cases, this happens with text been copied and pasted from web resources such as the Wikipedia. If one is a typical Microsoft Word user, which in most cases means he/she is using the default Word settings, the user cannot make out why some words are so close to each other and why some lines present that huge amount of whitespace. A more “advanced” user that might have activated “Show paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols” either from the Settings or by using the Paragraph mark on the main toolbar will be able to see that in these texts there are some superscript circles between words that, somehow, glue these words together and results in that unpleasant look of the text.


In the Microsoft Word’s vocabulary there circles are called “non-breaking spaces” (or Nonbreaking Spaces) and, fortunately, it is easy to use find/replace to get rid of them all at once!
The solution is as follows:

  1. Hit Ctrl-F, which will open the Search bar at the left of the text, and select the down-arrow next to the little magnifying glass. Find the “Advanced Find…” option and select it.
  2. In the “Find and Replace” window select the “Replace” tab, activate the “More>>” options and in “Special” select “Nonbreaking Space”, which will put a “^s” in the “Find what” field.

  3. Input just a space in the “Replace with” field and hit “Replace All”
  4. This procedure will release the text of those nasty circles and the text will become “normal” again…




8 thoughts on “Superscript circles or “non-breaking spaces”

  1. I am a lector for my church. I prefer to copy texts from online Bibles rather than type them in myself, risking a mistake. Such copied texts often contain the non-breaking space, which renders them very difficult to reformat for reading accurately and with expression. Your path through Word’s maze of options is a great help to me! Thanks!

  2. Thankyou so much for this. Proofing a report today and this is the first time I have had to replace more than a couple of these so finding this explanation was ideal

  3. Someone created a template like this, and it looked horrible. Thank you so much for this information; I was able to quickly find all the issues and improve the document.

  4. This requires caution – it can alter the character of saved passwords in Word documents, and create a absolute nightmare. ALL of my Word documents appear to be infected with these “Superscript circles”. Is it sure that they have not been intentionally used by corporations to generate problems for “whistle-blowers”? I know the source of those on my computer.

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