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.
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 Microsoft Word, go to Insert/Symbol/Special Characters/Optional Hyphen. Or use the shortcut Control- (Control hyphen).