I'm looking for a way to make InDesign break words regardless of good design practices and not hyphenate them.

For instance:

The quick brown fo
x jumps over the l
azy dog.

I would have done it manually, but this is text that will go over many pages. Also I'm not sure that I would necessarily use a monospaced font for this (which would have made this easier...)

  • 2
    My first approach would be converting the automated hyphens to text and then search and replace them. What have you tried? – KMSTR Dec 5 '15 at 8:40
  • I have not tried that. I didn't realize you could flatten the hyphens. – Adi Dec 5 '15 at 9:44
  • I don't know if you can. I am just saying there are many starting points to solving this. – KMSTR Dec 5 '15 at 10:34

Insert a discretionary line break in the position where InDesign breaks the word. A Discretionary Line Break adds a preferred position to break a word but does not display the usual hyphen - very useful to indicate preferred breaks in long URLs, for example (after all slashes).

From your example I understand you don't necessarily want to have breaks in 'regular' positions. Even with extremely relaxed Hyphenation settings, the word fox will never be broken as "f-ox". To achieve this effect, I suggest inserting a discretionary line break between every two word characters. That can easiest be done with GREP: search for \w(?=\w) and replace with $0~k (where ~k is the code for the break).

This will add a break between d and o but not between g and .. If you need that as well, use \S(?=\S).

Possibly this is too much for InDesign to handle when done on your "many pages". If you find your computer becoming unresponsive, try an alternative: insert a regular space between the words and set the Preferred Space Width in the Justification dialog to a value as small as possible. For this to work, you first need to change the 'regular' spaces to something else first, because otherwise these would disappear as well - perhaps an en-space does the trick.


You can do it by using a set of find/replace functions to replace every space character with an en space, and inserting a very narrow space character between each letter, so InDesign will not see the words as actual words, but it will look like words. This will result in lines breaking wherever the text meets the text frame's edge.

  1. First, find and replace every space character with an en space (^>).
  2. Next, with GREP find and replace every letter (.) with that letter, plus a regular space ($0 )
  3. Now, once more, find and replace all space-followed-by-en-space ( ^>) with an en space (^>)

This will result in a space character between every character, an a single en space between words. It will look very weird at this point, but the next steps will bring it all together.

  1. Now, create a "Narrow Space" character style (not a paragraph style) for the spaces that has a character width of 1.0% (the narrowest possible in InDesign)
  2. Do another find and replace, this time replacing every space with a space, and select the Narrow Space" character style as the change format area (revealed by clicking "More Options" in the Find and Replace dialog)
  3. If you want to narrow the en spaces a bit to make them look like normal spaces, you can create a new character style for those and find replace those as well.

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