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When is it appropriate to use non-breaking spaces?

If I am writing "I ran X distance", should I leave a space between the value and abbreviated distance, or is it more appropriate to bunch them together:

a) "I ran 5km"

b) "I ran 5 km"


The convention in technical contexts may be different, but my own practice it so to insert a space after the numeral, and show that it's plural: I ran 5 kms.

  • Thank you - is this an international standard? – squarefrog Oct 2 '12 at 10:03
  • I shouldn't think so. There aren't any international standards governing such things. It's just a matter of the custom and practice in different places. – Barrie England Oct 2 '12 at 10:04
  • The correct symbol for kilometres is km. kms is kilometre-second, a unit which is meaningless. "I ran 5 km" is correct. "5 kms" is not. You do need the non-breaking space between 5 and km, and it's a pity that comments don't allow that (but do demonstrate the necessity nicely). – Andrew Leach Oct 2 '12 at 10:19
  • I dont think you need the s at the end. – Noah Oct 2 '12 at 10:35
  • @Andrew Leach: I'd be interested to know if you have a source for that. – Barrie England Oct 2 '12 at 11:01

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