When to Break A Line

Balance is the key. Evaluate each sentence, headline, phrase, etc. individually and then determine, based on the desired perception, where breaks best fit.

  • Do not break up linguistic units among lines.
  • Maintain balance, similar length, between multiple lines. Maintaining line-length balance is more important than keeping linguistic units together.
  • When absolutely necessary to keep linguistic units together (like a person’s name), then the line break should still not cause a line to be less than 50% of the other line.
  • The articles (a, an, the) are never followed by a line break.
  • Adjective should stay together with nouns, but two or more adjectives may be separated by commas, and then it is possible (though not preferable) to break a line after one of the commas.
  • Clauses should stay together (never break lines after relative pronouns like which, that, who, etc.).
  • Prepositions are not followed by a line break if the break would separate them from the noun they refer to. A preposition in a concrete/physical meaning (e.g. “The book is in the drawer”) always precedes a noun, and cannot be followed by a line break. However, in English, a preposition that is part of a phrasal verb (put up, figure out, take in) may sometimes not be followed by a noun (“I figured it out yesterday”), and so, it can be followed by a line break.
  • Proper names should stay together if possible (think of them as a single word with many parts).
  • The Oxford Style Guide advises, on page 140: “Do not carry over parts of abbreviations, dates, or numbers to the next line”, “Do not break numbers at a decimal point, or separate them from their abbreviated units, as with 15 kg or 300 BC. If unavoidable, large numbers may be broken (but not hyphenated) at their comma, though not after a single digit: 493,|000,|000.”

Thanks to LWTBP on English Language & Usage (LINK)