Edited: It was brought to my attention (thank you, Angie Mahlke!) that if you do hit return twice, that it should leave that line break. I hadn’t even tried it!  It didn’t work like that ever before, and I had been so set in my ways, that I never even tried it again.  However…in my experience with it after learning this, I find it to be very unreliable.  Sometimes it preserves the line break, other times, it doesn’t.  There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason.  You can certainly hit return twice, but if you find that your lines continue to run together, go ahead and use my trick below.  

As a bonus to my big old article on how to caption your Insta pretty, I wanted to show you how I format my instagram captions quickly using my phone’s text replacement feature.

Disclaimer: This tutorial is shown on an iPhone, but I saw via a quick google search, that Android users also have the text replacement feature.  If you can’t find it quickly in your Settings, just google it – the idea is the same, no matter what the phone, as long as your model has text replacement. 

I used to use periods to provide line breaks in my Instagram captions, but was just really looking for a better way to make my captions look clean and easy to read.  I found “Spacers” which are invisible characters and when inserted, provide the look I was hoping for.  However, I had to copy/paste them from my Notes app and that just wasn’t working for me.

Enter: The Text Replacement.  My favorite phone feature EVER.  I use it for EVERYTHING.

All the things!  It’s the best little-known secret and once you know about it, you’ll go nuts adding bits of text that you used to type out over and over again and now…voila!  (Common replies to DMs, long email addresses, website URLs…Common comments, like variations on “thank you!” The list is endless!)

So, here’s the step by step, and I really encourage you to watch the video below so that you can see it done in action.  If you only read through this, you’ll be sure to think it’s too cumbersome.  But if you see how it works and understand that after a week or so or training your fingertips to do this, you’ll be tapping out pretty captions like a BOSS in no time flat!

Step by Step: How to Format Instagram Captions

  1. Copy the Instagram Spacers.  *You can copy them on your phone OR if you’re on a Mac, you can copy the spacers and paste them into your Notes app, which *should* sync with Notes on your phone.  If it doesn’t sync…I’d google it and fix that pronto.  I LOVE the sync feature and use it all the time, especially for editing my Hashtag Lists.  If you’re an android user, perhaps there’s a Notes app that syncs for you?  No clue here. You’ll select the characters in between the brackets or you can leave in the right-most bracket if you like (just so that you can find them later!  I advise that you do NOT copy the bracket on the left side.  For text replacement, you’ll find it difficult to remove later.  Just drag over the selection handle to omit that left bracket.


[  ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀]

2. Paste the spacers into your Notes app, as instructed above.  On an iPhone, I simply created a New Note, typed in a Title, Instagram Spacers, and tapped again to paste in the copied selection.


3. Next, tap on Settings (the gear icon on an iPhone) then General.  Then, scroll down a little to Keyboard (just under Date & Time.)  Tap Text Replacement then the sign to add a new text replacement.


4, The Phrase is where you’ll tap and then paste your spacers.  Remove the right bracket by just backspacing/deleting it.


5. Choose a Shortcut which is a letter or character that is easily accessible, but that you don’t use often at all.  I chose a capital ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀.


6. Tap Save.


How to Use your Text Replacement to Format your Instagram Caption

  1. Start your post as you normally would.  When it’s time to “Write a caption…” you’ll use your Q to create your line breaks.Sometimes I use a linebreak on the very top-most line if my first sentence is short and would look odd if typed out normally.  Here’s an example: After looking at it more closely, I do feel that the text would look much better if it were centered.  So, I’m going to edit this post.  I’ll tap the “…” in the upper right corner of the post and select Edit.  I’ll tap as best I can to the left of the sparkle emoji on the left side. I’ll hit 123-return and get that text on the line below.  (The text replacement doesn’t work if there’s text bumped up right next to it.)  Then, I’ll tap on the line above.  I’ll hit my Q-Space-Backspace (remember, the text replacement adds an extra space – NOT a spacer, but a space that Instagram will somehow take and pull up the lower line – precisely the issue with Instagram formatting and WHY the spacers are needed in the first place!)  Then, I’ll tap to the left of the sparkle emoji again and then backspace.  Now, the text is far too much to the right, so I’ll play with it and maybe start by backspacing 2-3 times.  I spot-checked the centered-ness of the text and decided that 4 backspaces would be perfect.


2. For a fresh post, you’ll just use your line break text replacements whenever you want a space or want to center your text.  The actual step by step is shown in the video, but first tap out your paragraph.

3. Be totally certain, especially if using emojis, that your cursor is bumped up right next to the last character.  Typically, the last character is a punctuation mark.


4. Hit 123-return.


5. Hit ABC-Q-Space-Backspace-123-Return.


6. Start typing the next line of text.


If you’re thinking WHOA that’s just too much to remember, it really isn’t something you need to memorize if you understand how text replacement works.  And…once you do it a few times, you’ll have it memorized.

It’ll be second nature. You do need to put in a little time into the learning curve, but that’s everything, right?  You didn’t learn manual mode on your camera or Lightroom or Photoshop after one try.  This is WAY easier.  Give a few tries, a few trial and errors and it’ll be nothing for you to incorporate it into your workflow.

Your pretty captions will thank you for it.

Tap the IGTV Video below to watch or click here!


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Why pretty captions?

I’d definitely recommend checking out my previous article on instagram captions here.  But in a nutshell, you are more engaging and more followable if your caption isn’t cluttered to death by a bunch of hashtags.  Your amazingly well-written captions will actually be READ because they don’t appear as one gigantic blob of text.

(Can we get real here for a sec?  If I see your caption as a huge chunk o’ text, I’m scrolling by, honey. Ain’t nobody got time to just read and read and read.  But make it pretty, make it skimmable, draw attention to the points that are actually important to draw the reader in, and I promise you, you’ll get more engagement (because people will actually read it) and you’ll get pushed into more feeds (because “time on post” is a thing) and you’ll get more follows because someone who actually read your caption will have felt your heart and purpose.  You’ll be followable to them. And by following you, they can continue to hear what you have to say.  Just say it…in a pretty…and easy-to-read kinda way.

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to read the first installment of this blog post series, Tips for Instagram Captions.  

You can get more Insta-goodness over at @PhotographerHack.  If you have questions, do be sure to DM me there.  I am not great at checking blog comments or email, but I do check my DM’s on the daily.

I’d love if you check out HubHack, my hashtag service.  We open to new members starting in September.  (Currently just under 600 lovely photographers are members!) Be sure to stay tuned on Insta for when membership opens up again!  Get on my email list to be the first to know when it opens (and get a special little discount just for email list subscribers!)