Prevent awkward breaks
Your word processor assumes that a word space marks a safe place to flow text onto a new line or page. A nonbreaking space is the same width as a word space, but it prevents the text from flowing to a new line or page. It’s like invisible glue between the words on either side.
Put a nonbreaking space before any numeric or alphabetic reference to prevent awkward breaks. Recall this example from paragraph and section marks:
|The defendant has the option under Civil Code §|
1782 to offer a correction to affected buyers. But ¶
17 of the agreement suggests it is required.
|The defendant has the option under Civil Code|
§ 1782 to offer a correction to affected buyers. But
¶ 17 of the agreement suggests it is required.
In the top example, normal word spaces come after the § and ¶ sym- bols, so the numeric references incorrectly appear on the next line.
In the bottom example, nonbreaking spaces come after the § and ¶ symbols. This time, the symbols and the numeric references stay together.
Use nonbreaking spaces after other abbreviated reference marks (Ex. A, Fig. 23), after copyright symbols (see trademark and copyright symbols), and between the dots in Bluebook-compliant ellipses.
In citations, use your judgment. In the citation Fed. R. Evid. 702, you can put a nonbreaking space before the 702 so it won’t get separated from Evid. But certain citation formats, like the California Style Manual, don’t use spaces in the abbreviated name of the source (116 Cal.App.4th 602). In those cases, the nonbreaking space can cause more problems than it solves because it creates a large, unbreakable chunk of characters.