Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
If we don't like the way InDesign is breaking our words, we can use a discretionary hyphen to insert the Hyphen Break at a different point in the word. Sometimes we can get rather unpredictable results with this. In the case of the word illustration on this first line if I want to insert the Hyphen Break at a different point, then as long as I insert my cursor before the current Hyphen Break then I'm going to put it between the U and the S, Command+Shift+Hyphen, or Ctrl+Shift+Hyphen, and then that will cause the Hyphen Break to occur right there.
However, if I try and have the Hyphen Break anywhere after the current point then it's going to carry the whole word down to the next line, and the reason for that being that there isn't enough room on line one for the larger word fragment to fit, so we can't aspect the impossible from InDesign. Just a point worth making here, if you are adding in your own discretionary hyphens just be careful about the word fragments that you create. For example, if I were to cause the hyphen to go right there then I have created an unfortunate word fragment that is just going to confuse the meaning of the text.
If we have a piece of jargon, some technical terms that is not in our User Dictionary, we can add it to the User Dictionary and determine how it hyphenates. I'm going to select this word right-click on it and then come to Spelling and then go to my User Dictionary where I can click on Hyphenate, and it's showing me that what it would like to have the hyphenation breaks be, if I want to change that I can change the position of these tildes, and I can rank them if I were to make one of those a single tilde that would be the first choice and then the others would be the equal second choices.
Now let's look at an unexpected use of the discretionary hyphen, because we saw just a moment ago how we can use it to cause a word to break differently, but we can also use it to prevent a word from breaking. Here I have four identical pieces of text, they're all a chapter opening and the problem is that the first line has a Hyphen Break on it, and that's something that we'd like to avoid. So the way to absolutely not fix this is just to use a Hard Return at the end of that line to carry the words down to the next line, that's going to create a problem like this where the new paragraph that is created would inherit the values from the paragraph that it came from, in this case, a big Drop Cap so that's just making the problem a whole lot worse.
An improvement would be to use a Soft Return or Shift+Return or Line Break, all those three things the same. By inserting your cursor before the T of thirteen pressing Shift+Return that's going to carry that word down to the next line. The only problem with this approach is that in this case you can see that it's created some big word spaces on the first line. So the best solution is to use a discretionary hyphen, and that's what's happened here, and we can see with my hidden characters shown and my Guides turned on we can see the hidden character for discretionary hyphen.
I'm just going to delete that, I put my cursor in front of the word and press Command+Shift+Hyphen, and then that will cause the word to actually come back up to the previous line. So if you want to prevent a word from breaking put a discretionary hyphen in front of it. And lastly we have the issue of the nonbreaking hyphen, if you have text that has a lot of telephone numbers or web addresses that have hyphens in them, and you want to prevent them from breaking at that hyphen creating this very unfortunate word break that we have here, you might try using a nonbreaking hyphen.
We can see that it's not going to work that great though, but let me copy that text frame and then what I'll do is select that currently breaking hyphen or sometimes referred to as a hard hyphen right there and right-click on it and then come down to Insert Special Character > Hyphens and Dashes there we see the discretionary hyphen where we're using before and here we have what we're off to this time, the nonbreaking hyphen and indeed that does prevent a Hyphen Break happening within that piece of text, but in fixing one problem it has created another.
So, in a case like this the better solution would be to select this piece of text and come and apply a No Break to it. So there we have several things relating to hyphens, nonbreaking hyphens, and unexpected use of the discretionary hyphen, and then controlling exactly how your words break using a discretionary hyphen to insert a Hyphen Break at a particular point in the word.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
119 Video lessons · 51587 Viewers
117 Video lessons · 39484 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 81809 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 12219 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.