Re: Hyphenation in technical documentation

Subject: Re: Hyphenation in technical documentation
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 14:04:32 -0500

Paul Pehrson wrote:

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)?


Welcome to techwr-l. As you will eventually come to know, if you don't already, I spout off about a lot of topics but I actually have some expertise when it comes to typography (as do several others here).

In _justified_ text, turning off hyphenation is a bad idea, as it leads to pigeonholes and rivers (unsightly blotches of white where word spaces get too large). These impede readability.

In _ragged right_ (unjustified) text, turning off hyphenation increases the raggedness. Often this technique is used in situations where the designer makes an esthetic choice to do so; but in technical communication, readability is the goal; so I wouldn't turn it off here, either.

There is an urban myth that hyphens confuse readers. Sloppily applied hyphens might do that. For example, if I have a hyphenated compound and one part of the compound is a multisyllabic word, I make an effort not to break the compound anywhere else but at the original hard hyphen. Breaking it in two places does, I think, impede readability. Otherwise, I'd advise keeping hyphenation turned on.




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Hyphenation in technical documentation: From: Paul Pehrson

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