Chapter 11. Don't Fear the Hyphen

THERE'S A LOT OF PREJUDICE against the poor hyphen. Some designers feel that hyphens are ugly and to be avoided at all costs, as if a broken word is somehow inferior to a word with no hyphens. I believe the humble hyphen is our friend. We live in a world of compromises andas long as the hyphenation breaks make sensehyphens are preferable to the evils of bad word spacing in justified type, or uneven rags in ragged type. Besides, we're used to reading hyphenated text. We do it without thinking, rarely if ever pausing to consider the hyphen's service to the cause of readability. Hyphenation also allows more words to fit on a line, which saves space. That said, a hyphen is only as good as its settings, so it's important to be familiar with InDesign's hyphenation options.

Hyphenation rules vary from one style manual to another and from one language to anotherthe English UK dictionary will hyphenate differently than the English USA dictionary. So make sure you're familiar with your house style and that you have the correct dictionary applied to your type.

Good hyphenation can be labor-intensive. Manually adjusting hyphenation should be one of the fine-tuning stages of your publication. Because text invariably gets edited throughout the production process, line endings will change. There's no point investing time in getting the hyphenation right until you know exactly what you're up against. Try to get your client to sign off on the text content before you start manually tweaking the hyphenation. Andan obvious pointalways start at the beginning of the story and work forward.