The Non-Joiner Character

One of the new features in InDesign CS3 is the addition of the Non-joiner special character. This character is available via both the Type menu and the text contextual menu via the Insert Special Character command.

If you’ve wondered about the purpose of this special character (no, it’s not a zero-width, anti-social, loner*), here it is: the Non-joiner either breaks or prevents the automatic contextual substitution of special letterforms like ligatures and OpenType’s contextual alternates.

So, if it’s the case that you’re setting your type, you need automatic ligatures and contextual alternates, but you want to make an exception at a particular point in your text, you just drop in the Non-joiner, and it will function like a chaperone at a 50’s highschool dance that prevents any undesirable coupling:

In this example, the OpenType font Bickham Script wants to connect the “o” and the “S” with a contextual alternate with a connector. By inserting the Non-joiner, the contextual substitution is prevented. Also note the symbol that’s used to represent the Non-joiner when you turn on “Show Hidden Characters.”


*This joke courtesy of Adobe’s Mike Richman

2 Responses to The Non-Joiner Character

  1. Karen says:

    Non-Joiner Question

    I have a document that was initially created in Word then cut and pasted into In Design using a Mac then opened in In Design on a PC for edits. When I hit the enter key a non-joiner is created instead of a hard return and the text will be shifted to the next column. Any suggestions

    [TC: Hi Karen, no idea what’s happening there. I’d recommend you post that question on the User to User forums first to see if anyone else has had a similar experience.]

  2. Jenny says:

    Excellent information. Not only informative but also very entertaining. 🙂