Control lines of text with a “soft return”


In Microsoft Office text formatting, and more

Here’s a tip that apparently not enough people know (or too easily forget). It applies to most any application that formats text, particularly in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint text formatting, and it has a number of uses. If you want to force a line of text to wrap—that is, to start on the next line, without starting a new paragraph, hold down the SHIFT key as you hit the ENTER (or RETURN) key. This is called a “soft return” in modern word processing terms; buried in Word as a “Text wrapping break.” Here are its most common uses:

  1. wrap a bulleted line without invoking a new bullet
  2. control a ‘line break’ of a paragraph without starting a new paragraph – particularly when it’s centered
  3. a double soft return can maintain a paragraph’s formatting

A regular ENTER / RETURN in PowerPoint creates a new bullet and a capitalized first letter:


But a soft return continues the line and maintains line spacing:

soft return-example

For a short cut that’s available in many word-processing applications, it is not commonly known, yet it’s extremely helpful when trying to tame your lines of text for any kind of publishing.

More examples of using soft return

Another place where using a soft return is very helpful is to keep your centered text balanced.

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