Hyphenation Options

Words with at Least _ Letters

This refers to the minimum number of characters for hyphenated words. Changing this number from 5 to 6 will result in less hyphenation.

After First and Before Last

These rather confusingly named options refer, respectively, to the minimum number of characters at the beginning of a word and the minimum number of characters at the end of a word that can be broken by a hyphen. The golden rule is to leave at least two characters behind and take at least three forward.

Figure 11.1. The Hyphenation Settings dialog box (default settings shown).

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Hyphen Limit

This determines the maximum number of hyphens that can appear on consecutive lines so that you can avoid a stepped effect (ladders) on your column edge. While you'd never want more than two consecutive hyphens, it's debatable whether this option is the best method of preventing consecutive hyphens. You might want to set this option to 0, allowing unlimited consecutive hyphens, then manually fix any problems through a combination of tracking and/or rewriting and/or discretionary hyphens.

Here are some options for fixing ladders:

  • Find a better break a few lines above and insert a discretionary hyphen.

  • Find a line(s) where you can tighten the letter spacing with manual tracking.

  • Take the tightest hyphenated line and set the last word to No Break. This will turn the word over to the next line. You can do the same thing with line breaks (Shift+Return/Enter), but these can cause problems if the text is later edited, with line breaks showing up in the middle of a line.

  • Rewrite, if you have the authority and it's appropriate.


Applying No Break to a word that you don't want to hyphenate is preferable to using line breaks, which can later come back to bite you if the text is edited, causing the line break to occur in the middle of a line rather than at the end. Because No Break is buried away on the Control palette menu you'll save a lot of time by assigning it a keyboard shortcut.

Figure 11.2. Add Discretionary Hyphens. In example A, lines 4 and 5 have consecutive hyphens. In example B, inserting a discretionary hyphen before "recognized" (line 5) turns that word over to the next line, fixing the problem andbecause the Adobe Paragraph Composer is appliedrecomposing the preceding lines.

Figure 11.3. Assigning a shortcut to No Break.

Hyphenation Zone

Despite the alluring name, this is nothing more than an invisible boundary set from the right margin. A larger Hyphenation Zone creates a hard rag, allowing more words to be pulled down to the next line, thus requiring fewer words to be hyphenated. A smaller Hyphenation Zone will create a softer rag, with more hyphenated words. Note: The Hyphenation Zone is relevant only if you're using ragged text.

Figure 11.4. Hyphenation Zone.

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The Hyphenation Slider

This enables you to alter the balance between better spacing and fewer hyphens. With justified text the spacing is adjusted between the words. With left-aligned text the rag (the right edge of the text) is adjusted. When working with left-aligned text avoid any gaping holes, long sloping edges, or words that stick out unattractively. Aim for a gentle wave that makes slight in-and-out adjustments as the eye travels down the column.

Figure 11.5. The Hyphenation Slider.

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Hyphenate Capitalized Words

This does exactly what it says. Generally you want to avoid breaking proper nouns, but if they occur frequently and/or if there are a lot of them, checking this option yields better word spacing.

Hyphenate Last Word

Just what the doctor ordered when it comes to preventing word breaks at the end of a paragraph. Uncheck this to prevent the last word of a paragraph being hyphenated.

Not all Hyphens are Born Equal

The hyphen character in most fonts is nasty, brutish, and short, and could easily be swapped with the hyphen from another font without anyone even noticing. Certain fonts, however, have very distinctiveand beautifulhyphens.

Figure 11.6. Hyphen examples.