I saw this issue when working with an old colleague Hammad Arif earlier this year and he came up with a solution written up here that worked nicely at the time, however I’ve come across this again and this time it proved more of a challenge.
When exporting to PDF Reporting Services reports containing multi-line text from a SQL datasource the first line of text loses all spaces between words, see screenshot taken from a PDF file:
Nope that’s not one particularly long German conjugation, that is the problem I’m talking about! It only seems to affect the first line of each multi-line based custom field value in the SSRS dataset and additionally when looking at the data in SQL or in the HTML source there is nothing different visible! However oddly on the affected projects a single odd character (​) does exist before the html <span>.
After much head scratching it took a call to Microsoft to identify that hidden away in the database tables are some characters, specifically HEX ‘0B 20’ which turns out to be the Zero Width Space or in HTML (​), the same character you can see in the HTML. Now this makes sense as despite these being invisible in the SQL tables using a SELECT statement, they still exist and cause these symptoms in the PDF but not when viewed on the Web or exported to Word or other formats.
Fortunately the resolution for the report is nice and simple;
SELECT REPLACE(Problemstellung, NCHAR(8203), '') AS Problemstellung
Simply wrap each multi-line text field affected with the SQL REPLACE command removing the character completely!
To answer the question of where they came from, that is one I leave to the Microsoft escalation engineers. :)