I don't speak or write Chinese, but currently working on web project for my client. The site is available in four languages. The translated content for Chinese is given to me in word doc.

The question is very simple,

Is it OK if I break a single line Chinese sentence into two for design purpose?

Below is brief of why I'm asking this question. tl;dr

In a banner I'm designing for, I have some space issues. Wanted to know if it is OK to break a single line into two lines? When trying out google translator I got a bit confused when I break lines because there was a change in word and auto capitalization. Would be great if some one could clear my doubts, because I do not want the viewers to get annoyed seeing random capitalization and poor language. Also do not want to piss off my client.

A small example is given below

English: User's skin becomes Brighter

What my clients translator gave me: 用户的肌肤变得更亮白

What google translated(when in single line): User's skin becomes more white

With the help of google translator I tried breaking the lines as below.


Google gave me

User's skin becomes
More Brightening

but I found that google captilises the first letter of second line. Does a new line mean a new sentence in Chinese?

  • 1
    for design purpose, it's ok to break a complete sentence to small one. well, your sentence should be divided to "用户的肌肤" and "变得更亮白". for a shorter one, i would suggest "肌膚皙亮由此起" Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 23:37
  • Under what circumstances do you want to put "User's skin becomes Brighter" on a banner? Sounds so emotionally detached.. If it is an ad it must be for the Vulcans. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 1:13
  • In Chinese a sentence usually ends with a '。', '!', or '?'。On the internet some may use space to replace any punctuation, which is informal.
    – ElpieKay
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 1:25
  • If you are not restricted to direct translation, it would be better to make it more concise. e.g. "用後肌膚 更亮更白".
    – Henry HO
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 11:45

2 Answers 2


In terms of grammar, Chinese also uses punctuation marks to delimit fragments and sentences, so a line break usually doesn't indicate a new sentence. The only hard rule is that most punctuation marks should not begin lines. Most word processing software should enforce this for you.

After this it's a stylistic question. It's true in Chinese, just as it is in English, that line breaks introduces a pause. It's an effect that poetry often takes advantage of. Usually it's bad to pause in the middle of a word, and since Chinese words are made up of one to many characters, you need someone that understands Chinese to identify the words and avoid breaking them. In your example sentence, they are:

用户 - 的 - 肌肤 - 变得 - 更 - 亮白

Line breaks emphasise the first word of a line, so maybe you want to do it to emphasise certain words. This emphasises the "becomes":



This emphasises the "more"



Or you can really overdo the line breaks and make it seem like shouting





But really, these are all design decisions, which don't occur in a vacuum. You need to go back to your client and ask what they would like. Maybe they value the shape of the text, even if it means breaking in the middle of a word. Maybe they don't want line breaks at all, even if the text must be resized. Maybe they just don't care.


To the best of my knowledge, breaking up sentences into separate lines is fine, but you should not do so in a way that breaks up linked characters (e.g. in your example, 变 and 得). For example, in the ending of a Hong Kong commercial about cervical cancer prevention, we see the text:

爱护自己 (take care of yourself)
及早检验 (and get tested early)

(The characters in the commercial are traditional, but I am using their simplified equivalents for convenience.) The two clauses are clearly linked together as a phrase or sentence, but they appear on separate lines. A new line does not mean a new sentence here.

In some cases, the two lines could stand separately. For example: 生命有希望 / 前路由我创 (There is hope in life / the path forward is up to me.) However, I would be disinclined to interpret them as separate sentences; in context provided, the two clauses are tied together.

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