Controlling Hyphenation

Carefully controlling hyphenation can help you create documents that look and read better. If you justify text between margins, hyphenating can help you reduce the amount of whitespace between words. If you justify text at the left margin, hyphenating helps reduce the raggedness of the right margin. It can be particularly helpful in maintaining even line lengths in narrow columns, helping readers read smoothly, without distraction.

You can let Word hyphenate your document automatically, or you can use manual hyphenation to control where hyphens appear in words. In addition, you can use nonbreaking hyphens or optional hyphens to control where hyphenated words or phrases break.


Wait until you've finished writing and editing to hyphenate your document because adding and deleting text affects the way the lines break.

Automatically Hyphenating Words in Your Document

You can let Word automatically hyphenate your document. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Tools, Language, Hyphenation. The Hyphenation dialog box appears (see Figure 8.27).

    Figure 8.27. Use this dialog box to set and control hyphenation.


  2. Check the Automatically Hyphenate Document check box.

  3. If you want to automatically hyphenate words that appear entirely in capital letters, check in the Hyphenate Words in CAPS check box.

  4. Set the Hyphenation Zone. The larger the zone, the fewer hyphens Word will insert, but the more ragged your right margin will appear.

  5. Use the Limit Consecutive Hyphens To spin box to set the number of consecutive lines that Word can hyphenate.

  6. Click OK.

Word will place hyphens throughout your document. If you change your mind and want to remove the hyphenation, repeat these steps and remove the check from the Automatically Hyphenate Document check box.

To remove hyphenation from part of your document, select that text, right-click, and choose Paragraph. Choose the Line and Page Breaks tab and place a check in the Don't Hyphenate check box.

Manual Hyphenation: Taking Line-by-Line Control

You can control Word's placement of hyphens by manually hyphenating your document. Reopen the Hyphenation dialog box (choose Tools, Language, Hyphenation) and clear the Automatically Hyphenate Document check box. Then, click the Manual button. Word switches to Print Layout view (if necessary) and displays the dialog box shown in Figure 8.28.

Figure 8.28. Use this dialog box to hyphenate an individual word.


If you like the location within the word that Word has chosen, click Yes. If you want to move the hyphen, use the left- and right-arrow keys to move the blinking insertion point. When the blinking insertion point appears where you want to hyphenate, click Yes. If you don't want to hyphenate the word at all, click No.

If you manually hyphenate a word, Word will display a hidden symbol in your document to indicate that the word has been manually hyphenated (see Figure 8.29). To view this symbol, click the Show/Hide Paragraph Marks button on the Standard toolbar.

Figure 8.29. Word inserts an optional hyphen symbol to flag manual hyphenation.


Of course, if the word does not appear at the end of a line, Word will not hyphenate it.


You can insert an optional hyphen at any time. Place the insertion at the location in the word where you want the optional hyphen to appear, and press Ctrl+Hyphen.

In addition to manual hyphenation, you can also use nonbreaking hyphens to prevent a hyphenated word or phrase from breaking at the end of a line.

For example, suppose you want all occurrences of "add-in" to appear together on a line, and you don't want Word to split the words so that "add" appears at the end of a line and "in" appears at the beginning of the next line. Use a nonbreaking hyphen between the words. Simply press Ctrl+Shift+Hyphen to insert the hyphen. Word will always keep the phrase together on a line, forcing a new line if the phrase appears at the end of a line and won't fit.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word