What IS this thing?

When I’m working with other people’s writing I run into some of the weirdest formatting you’ve ever seen. Everyone has their own way of doing things and sometimes, even though a dozen stories may look the same on the page as you’re reading them, as soon as it’s time to start formatting and I click the little ‘Show/Hide Paragraph Marks and other Hidden Formatting Symbols’ button (which looks like this for those of you who’ve never heard of it – ShowThingys) things get crazy.

I’ve seen a lot of weird things. A lot of stories which look elegantly formatted, until you look under the hood by pressing that ‘Show/Hide’ button and find just a mess of weird mark-up.

But whatever, it’s all stuff that I can work with or around, this isn’t meant to be a rant. I have an honest to goodness question for those of you who also do this sort of thing. What do the little circles in between words stand for? Where do they come from? How are they different from spaces?

Here is an example I created by changing the text in a submission I received without changing the formatting:

what-the

What’s with the circles? Anyone know? LOL

ETA: I’ve been told (on Facebook, LJ and my blog) “A degree symbol ° represents a non-breaking space (Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar), which you can use to prevent words from being separated at the end of a line.” (I’m quoting Steven S. from my Facebook there). Thanks guys!

 

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