Posted by: brian | August 8, 2007

Hyphenation? Yes, please!

If you were writing a longish paper (say 14 pages) in Microsoft Word(TM), and wanted to automatically hyphenate the whole document so that the right-hand side of the text would look less ragged, how would you do it?

Would you look under Edit? Hmmm, nothing there looks promising. No, probably Format, since that’s what I’m doing – I’m trying to format the appearance of the document. Let’s see… no Hyphenation item there, but let’s try Paragraph. That would make sense – I mean, that’s where I’d go to determine line justification, line spacing, indentation, and so forth. Hmm. Gee, I don’t see anything here about hyphenation.

Hrmph. What about Tools? Let’s see here…. Spelling and Grammar, Research, Language,Track Changes, Protect Document, Online Collaboration, … Macros, … Customize, Options. Well, let’s try those last two, just for shits.

CustomizeToolbars, Commands, Options – yeah, these are for customizing the interface, not for working with the document. What about Options (from the Tools menu, not from the Customize dialog box)…. Oh my! All these tabs! Let’s see… we’ve got View, General, Edit, Print, Save, … Compatibility, Spelling and Grammar… Yeah, this is no good. It’s just more interface customization options.

Hey – maybe Page Setup… (humming tunelessly to self) File > Page Setup. We’ve got Margins, Paper, Layout. Let’s see… I can turn the paper sideways, but that’s not what I’m looking for — ooh! I wonder how many pages I’d end up with that way? Still 14. Boooooring. Okay, let’s look at this again. Headers and footers… nope, that’s taken care of.

Well dammit, now I’m going to have to use the “Help.”

(doo-de-doo….) <F1>, Search for hyphenation. …. (It’s searching Microsoft Office Online – this’ll take a minute)…. (humming Taking Care of Business) Did you hear we’re in a flood watch toni—- oh there it is. We’ve got “About Hyphenation,” “Insert a nonbreaking hyphen” (I wonder if there should be one in “nonbreaking”?), … Here we go: “Hyphenate text.”

Huh – I can “Automatically hyphenate all of a document” or “Automatically hyphenate part of a document.” I’d like “all,” please.

(Mouthing words while reading text, muttering softly)… Tools menu… Language – What? I was just there! Okay, what next? Tools > Language > Hyphenation. Select Automatically hyphenate document. Well, there we go. Ooh, I can Limit the number of consecutive hyphens, set the “Hyphenation zone” … I wonder if that’s like that danger zone? … I can even Hyphenate words in CAPS! That’s silly. Why would a word be wearing a cap?

Well, that’s taken care of then. Although I don’t understand why Hyphenation is Language (hanging out with Set Language, Translate, and Thesaurus (thundering across the Jurassic plain…)).

Wait, I didn’t see anything in there about hyphenating part of a document…. Let’s see what the “Help” says about that.

(Mumbling) Select the text you don’t want to — wait. The first step under “Automatically hyphenate part of a document” is “Select the text you don’t want to hyphenate”? This is getting more confusing by the minute. Okay, select the text… then Format > Paragraph > Line and Page Breaks… oh, there’s a check box for Don’t hyphenate. Well, THAT makes a lot of sense. I have to tell it to automatically hyphenate the whole document, and then I not hyphenate the rest of the document, then the part of the document that I want to hyphenate will be hyphenated.

Dammit, now I need a drink.



  1. Do you mean “justify?” As in “right and left justify?”

  2. No, now I think you actually do mean “hyphenate.” You hyphenate words to alter the justification? You hyphenate? Who does that? I thought I knew you!

  3. No, I meant hyphenate. And no, I don’t actually – I just had a couple of short lines surrounding one that stuck out significantly farther, so I thought, “I wonder what it would look like if I hyphenated that long word that ran onto the next line, causing this line (let’s call it line n) to look so much shorter than line n+1…” So I started looking for the feature (I simply knew it had to be there somewhere), and had a hell of a time finding it.

  4. Oy, that I just noticed that weirdness with the clause “, causing this line ….”

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