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I use cross-references to figures in Microsoft Word 2010. I manually include non-breaking spaces between Figure and number, e.g., Figure[non-breaking space]1.1 if needed at the end of a line (which prevents 1.1 from being printed on the next line).

If I update the references with F9 (i.e.,Ctrl+A, then F9), the non-breaking spaces are lost.

Is there a way to force MS Word to keep these non-breaking spaces in cross-references?

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The best solution I could find is to manually add a non-breaking space between the label ("Figure" in this case) and the figure number of your figure caption. Refer to the figure below where I have shown the paragraph marks to indicate where I have added the non-breaking space (°). The non-breaking space will now remain in your cross-reference when you update.
enter image description here

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I think you are changing the space character in the cross-reference.

If you change the space character in the Figure caption itself it should "stick" (That's what happens here). A table of Figures should still generate OK, but with the non-breaking space characters instead of ordinary spaces.

But I don't think you can insert a non-breaking space via the Caption dialog, so if you want to make insertion relatively easy, you should modify one caption and make an Autotext from it.

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When you update the reference, your manual edit of the cross-reference will be overwritten. You can't do anything about it.

You should include the non-breaking space in your figure subtitle. Do it generally in all subtitles, it doesn't hurt. These non-breaking spaces will be included inside the cross-references and hence you don't have to do anything manually if such a cross reference happens to be moved near the end of a line.

I disrecommend to use the the built-in creator of captions ("Caption dialog"). Rather use the "method of the pros":

Figurenon-breaking space{ SEQ Figure \* ARABIC }TabThis figure shows XYZ.

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