Re: Hyphenation -- good research into reading speed and comprehension?

Subject: Re: Hyphenation -- good research into reading speed and comprehension?
From: JX Consulting <jx -at- jxconsulting -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 08:00:44 -0800

> Here's one:

Thanks for the link. However, as far as I can tell from the summary,
that study is not about end-of-line hyphenation. It seems like it's a
study about artifically inserting hyphen characters between morphemes
in words, particularly nonwords such as "dis-move", and presumably
keeping the word together on the same line from how i read the
summary. In other words help-ing dys-lex-ics with read-ing abil-ity by
add-ing dash-es. I'd have to buy the article to quote the study

I'm looking for end-of-line hyphenation research, where the 2nd half
of the word is on the *next* line.

Apparently we've Gutenberg to "thank" for end-of-line hyphenation. :-)
See my original email for more info...

If anyone knows of good research, please let me know.

-- JX Bell
Technical Communication Consultant
JX Consulting

On Nov 13, 2009, at 10:17pm, JX Consulting wrote:

> Is there any good research into reading speed and comprehension of
> unhyphenated English versus hyphenated English? I just mean
> hyphenation due to end of line, not about words with naturally
> having hyphens whereever they appear on the line :-)
> I'm skeptical about hyphenation of technical documentation. Maybe
> I'm wired differently than other folks, but it seems to hinder
> comprehension and reading speed, as well as look distracting. Yeah,
> I get it that lines can be more "full looking", but that's not even
> necessarily more aesthetically pleasing. And for documentation,
> we're optimizing for people actually reading it, especially quickly,
> and learning quickly. And it doesn't seem worth it to me to
> hyphenate if that's what we're going for.
> From what I've read online**, the hyphenation of words for line
> length was originally just an artifact of the physical limitations
> of old moveable type presses, and just got carried over into the
> future from there.
> I want to know the facts on this. Is there any reputable research
> about the actual reading of hyphenated English? I am curious about
> various types of data: (1) neurotypical folks -- the general
> population (2) dyslexic populations (3) and of course folks leaning
> towards Aspergers - people more likely to be readers of our
> technical docs. :-)
> Thanks for any good tips!
> -- JX Bell
> Technical Communication Consultant
> JX Consulting
> *** According to wikipedia, "Prior to Gutenberg setting the first
> lines printed in the Western world with movable type, there was no
> need for hyphens or the justification of lines to equal length. The
> Gutenberg printing press required words made up of individual
> letters of type to be held in place by a surrounding non-printing
> rigid frame. Gutenberg solved the problem of making each line the
> same length to fit the frame by inserting a hyphen as the last
> element at the right side margin. This interrupted the letters in
> the last word, requiring the remaining letters be carried over to
> the start of the line below..."


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Hyphenation -- good research into reading speed and comprehension?: From: JX Consulting

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