Years ago, I helped a major museum create a list of abbreviations (and other elements that typically appear in scholarly manuscripts) before or after which it would be good to have non-breaking spaces. You know, like after the p. in “see p. 284” or before the in. in dimensions (8 x 8 in.).
When I’m commissioned as typesetter, I bring in these non-breaking spaces at the initial typesetting stage. InDesign has a powerful Find/Change feature that makes this a simple task. Doing it early on ensures that none of these awkward breaks will appear in first pass pages and saves lots of time and effort on behalf of the designer and editorial staff.
“I can’t handle reflow at this point!”
On occasion, I’m brought in to finish up design and production on a book when the designer is unable to get the work done on time. The entire book will have already been laid out and at least one round of edits may have been done. Generally, the editor will mention that there are numerous bad breaks due to the designer not adding these non-breaking spaces and will ask me to fix all of them. I have to point out that if I make the changes globally at this point, line breaks will change and text may reflow from page to page, which is a big problem if the index has already been developed. (These books usually do not contain InDesign-generated indexes.)
“I can’t handle reflow at this point!” is the typical response. This means I have to find and replace these spaces one by one and fix any bad line breaks or text reflow. That’s quite a time-consuming process. So save your publisher some money and make these changes before first pass. Your editor will love you.