Sometimes we like to begin a new line without starting a whole new text block. To place such a hard line break gets complicated, when hard line wraps limit the line length inside our Markdown files.

Syntax

There are two ways to place intentional hard line breaks, which depend on the way we handle hard line wraps.

CommonMark
allows hard wraps — a. k. a. hard line breaks — to limit the line length. They are treated just like spaces. Therefore, CommonMark needs a special syntax element for an intentional line break.
GitHub
instead, treats hard line breaks simply as such. In this case we probably need to use soft wraps in our editor to limit the line length, which may be a good habit anyway. (See also: Writing Markdown)

The CommonMark Way

Hugo’s standard configuration is fully CommonMark-compliant, the parameter hardWraps is set to false by default. There are two ways now, to place an intentional line break:

Two spaces
before the end of a line.
One backslash \
directly after the text and before the end of the line.

Both options are error-prone. Spaces before the end of the line are usually invisible in text editors and get easily deleted by accident. The backslash is visible, but if there only one additional space glyph between the backslash and the invisible newline character, the \ is treated literally and visible on the resulting page.

The GitHub Way

To format line-breaks like GitHub, we need to set hardWraps to true, as in the configuration for this project. The syntax becomes intuitive:

Hard line breaks
break lines hard.

If we change the line-breaking from CommonMark’s way to GitHub’s, Hugo still recognizes the CommonMark breaks, when hardWraps is set to true. We don’t need to replace them. But we need to remove all simple breaks, because they are now also treated as intentional line breaks.

What now?

When you have to strictly adhere to the CommonMark specification the best option from my point of view is still, to forgo hard wraps and use CommonMark-breaks. This way is compatible with CommonMark and GitHub.

When you are allowed to deviate from CommonMark in regard to this one element, I strongly recommend the GitHub way. (See also: Writing Markdown)

Layout

Line Break

Far, far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts.
Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia.

Two spaces

Far, far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts.
Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia.

Backslash

Far, far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts.
Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia.