RE: Hyphenation in technical documentation

Subject: RE: Hyphenation in technical documentation
From: "Kathy Underwood" <Kathy -dot- Underwood -at- sas -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 13:59:27 -0500

As in so many cases, it depends.

At my company, we use the Chicago Manual of Style. CMS has for some years argued for the trend towards fewer hyphenations--notwithstanding a lengthy section on hyphenation. This makes a lot of sense (my favorite examples of words better written as closed rather than hyphenated are online and database). But CMS is not absolutist on the topic. I don't know any style manual (NYT, APA, CBE, etc.) that is absolutist. It's always a matter of case by case--and check the dictionary when in doubt.

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-178785 -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:bounce-techwr-l-178785 -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Paul Pehrson
Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2004 1:46 PM
Subject: Hyphenation in technical documentation

TECHWR-L Community;

I'm new to the list, so I want to start by telling you all hello. I recently graduated with a B.A. in English with a technical writing emphasis and and editing minor, and now work for a software development company as an associate technical writer.

My company produces volumes of technical documentation supporting our software. Our documentation is being produced using FrameMaker 7.1. My tech writing and editing classes in college never covered Frame, so there has been a bit of a learning curve as I've been switching.

Today I talked to my supervisor about a problem with auto hyphenation in Frame. Using Frame's help, I figured out how to disallow hyphenation for certain words. As we were discussing this topic, he told me that recently another writer told him that "good technical writing" doesn't use hyphens, and we should update our template documents to turn off auto hyphenation.

Here's my question for all you seasoned professionals: what do you think about hyphenation in technical documentation? Do you think hyphenation is okay as long as you don't hyphenate jargon words?
Should hyphenation be turned off for a whole project? Where do you draw the line (pun intended)?

I look forward to participating in the TECHWR-L community! Thanks (in
advance) for your responses.


Paul Pehrson
Salt Lake City, UT




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