Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Using Optional Hyphens.

Using Optional Hyphens

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 17, 2017)

Hyphens are often used to split words that appear at the end of a line, allowing the first part of a word to appear at the end of the line and the rest of the word to appear at the beginning of the next line. Word includes tools that allow you to hyphenate your document, as describe in other WordTips.

An optional hyphen is a special character that Word allows you to insert in your document. For instance, you can put an optional hyphen in a word at a normal hyphenation point. Through the course of editing your document, if the word falls at the end of a line, it will be hyphenated as you direct. If the word does not fall at the end of a line, the hyphen is not used and the word remains unhyphenated.

Optional hyphens are created by pressing Ctrl+- (Ctrl and the hyphen or dash key). Word typically doesn't display optional hyphens unless it appears at the end of a line, as described above. If you want to see all your optional hyphens, regardless of their position in a document, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Display at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Display options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Optional Hyphens check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11921) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Using Optional Hyphens.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Saving Form Data for a Database

Use Word to create a form, and you can easily collect standardized data from a large number of users. When it comes time ...

Discover More

Setting Limit Depth Spacing in the Equation Editor

The Equation Editor is a handy tool, particularly for those who must include mathematical equations in their documents. ...

Discover More

Changing Multiple Cells at Once

Excel includes several different methods of editing information in your cells. If you want to edit multiple cells all at ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Deletions Don't Work as Expected

We all get into habits, including in how we use Word. If you are used to deleting text in a particular way, and all of a ...

Discover More

Deleting All Text in Linked Text Boxes

Word allows you to place text in multiple text boxes and have that text flow from one text box to another. This tip ...

Discover More

Counting Document Lines

Need to know how many lines are in your document? Word provides a quick and easy way you can determine the information.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven minus 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.