Quick Tip on Hyphenation

This post should go under the category "Things I Should Have Known." It’s about hyphenation.

Did you know that in Microsoft Word you can insert an optional hyphen? You are probably wondering why you would want to.

Example: Imagine you are writing a two-column piece such as a newsletter article. Because you are using a narrow two-column format, you may need to divide a long word to avoid having a large blank space. For example:

To avoid this blank space after electronic,

Despite our electronic
communications, we are all human.

Do this:

Despite our electronic communica-
tions, we are all human.

But what if you then edited your sentence and shortened it? You would need to avoid ending up with this error:

Despite our communica-tions, we
are all human.

To avoid having a hyphen you don’t want, insert an "optional hyphen"–a hyphen that disappears if it is not necessary–rather than a regular hyphen.

To insert the optional hyphen in Micrsoft Word, go to Insert/Symbol/Special Characters/Optional Hyphen. Or use the shortcut Control- (Control hyphen).

I should have known this tip a long time ago. But I just learned it from Debbie Esposito, who designs all our printed materials. For examples of Debbie’s work, see our class flyer or an article. To contact Debbie (and learn a lot about designing documents in MS Word), email her.

Happy hyphenating!


Other search spellings: hyphenatiaon, hypenate, hyphenate