Activate and adjust hyphenation in Word

You’ve reached the end of a line but are still halfway through typing a word. This can lead to a large gap at the end of the line in a Word document. Or if your text is formatted as justified, large gaps can appear between the words if syllables are not separated at the end of the lines.

Hyphenation in Word is a handy way to separate words at the end of lines in a linguistically correct manner, and to avoid such problems. It can be turned on and off as desired. When deactivated, words are not separated, but a new line is started for words which are too long. With automatic hyphenation enabled in Word, words at the end of lines are broken in grammatically correct places. We'll show you how to use this feature, what individual settings are available, and which advantages hyphenation provides you with in Word.

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Hyphenation in Word for Windows: How to activate and customize the feature

If hyphenation is available in a Word document, you have the option to use the function for the whole document or to exclude the separation in certain paragraphs. You can even define specifications manually.

Enable automatic hyphenation in Word

In Word versions from 2007, hyphenation is disabled in the default settings. You can activate it by doing the following:

  1. Click on Layout or Page Layout, depending on your version of Word.
  2. In the Page Setup area, select Hyphenation”.
  3. Set a check mark next to “Automatic”.

Automatic hyphenation is now enabled for the entire document.

Exclude word hyphenation in certain paragraphs

If you want to exclude word hyphenation in certain paragraphs, you can do so as follows:

  1. Select the paragraph in which you want to exclude hyphenation.
  2. Click on the right mouse button to open a drop-down menu.
  3. Click on the menu item “Paragraph”.
  4. Go to the tab “Line and Page Breaks”.
  5. Put a check mark in the field “Don’t hyphenate” and confirm with OK.

Alternative procedure in some Word versions:

  1. Select the text.
  2. Open the “Start” tab and then click on the small icon at the bottom right near “Paragraph”.
  3. Select the “Lines and Page Breaks” tab.
  4. Activate the box “Don’t hyphenate” under “Format Exceptions” (or “Formatting Exceptions”).

Individually adjust word hyphenation

In addition to this approach, there are other ways to customize hyphenation in Word:

  1. Click on the arrow next to “Hyphenation” in the “Layout” tab.
  2. Select “Manual”. All possible hyphenation options will be recognized.
  3. In the “Manual hyphenation” dialog box you can set individual breakpoints and finally confirm them with “OK”.

There is an alternative procedure in older versions of Word:

  1. First, proceed as with automatic hyphenation by going to the “Layout” tab, and clicking on “Hyphenation” under “Page setup”.
  2. Now, however, select “Hyphenation Options”.
  3. In the newly opened window, you can set the maximum number of hyphens that may follow each other. To do this, go via “Layout” and “Hyphenation” to “Hyphen Options”. There you can specify the desired maximum number of consecutive hyphens in the field “Limit consecutive hyphens to”.
  4. In addition, you can also use this menu to see all the words in your document that have been separated so far and reject hyphenation.

Insert protected hyphen by shortcut

In connection with hyphens, you have the additional option to set protected hyphens. You can do this by highlighting a passage in the text and then pressing the key combination [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [hyphen].

Hyphenation in Word for Mac

As in Word for PCs, automatic hyphenation has been disabled in Word for Mac since 2007. On the Mac, turn it back on by clicking “Layout” and then in the tab “Text Layout” select the point Hyphenation”. Finally, check “Automatic Hyphenation” and confirm with OK.

Turn on and adjust manual hyphenation in Word for Mac

Hyphenation in Word can also be set up manually on Apple computers. When doing this, there must not be any text area highlighted throughout the whole document. In the menu “Extras”, click on “Hyphenation” and select “Manual”. Word now recognizes all possible hyphenation scenarios, and you can select the desired positions in the “Separation Proposal” field.

If you just want to manually set up hyphenation for an area in the document, simply highlight the appropriate text section before performing the above steps.

Individually separate text and syllables in Word for Mac

To separate text and syllables in Word for Mac using individual settings, follow these steps:

  1. From the “Layout” menu, select “Hyphenation Options”.
  2. Check the box next to “Automatically hyphenate document”.
  3. Now you can define the distance you want between the last word ending and the right line edge in the field “Hyphenation zone”.
  4. You can also go to “Limit consecutive hyphens to” and specify how many consecutive lines can end with hyphens.
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