Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Hyphenating a Selection.

Hyphenating a Selection

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 4, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Hyphenation is the process of adding hyphens to words at the beginning of lines so the hyphenated part will fit at the end of the previous line. The hyphens are inserted between syllables in a word. Word offers two types of hyphenation: automatic and manual. If you choose the first, you can only hyphenate your entire document. If you choose the latter, you can hyphenate your entire document or any portion thereof. To hyphenate just a selection of your document, follow these steps:

  1. Select the text you want to hyphenate.
  2. Display the Layout or Page Layout (depending on your version of Word) tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Hyphenation tool (in the Page Setup group) and then click Hyphenation Options. Word displays the Hyphenation dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Hyphenation dialog box.

  5. Click on the Manual button.
  6. You are shown the first possible hyphenation.
  7. If the word being proposed for hyphenation is long enough, you may be able to specify a different place for it to be hyphenated. Simply click on one of the proposed hyphenation points.
  8. Click on Yes to hyphenate the word at the noted point or click on No to skip hyphenating the word. You are then shown the next possible hyphenation.
  9. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the remainder of the selection.
  10. When asked if you want to hyphenate the rest of the document, click on No.

Again, there is no automatic way to hyphenate just a selection. There is a way to get around this, however—provided the portion you want to hyphenate is an entire paragraph. All you need to do is select the portions of the document you don't want to hyphenate, and then follow these steps:

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Line and Page Breaks tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Line and Page Breaks tab of the Paragraph dialog box.

  5. Ensure the Don't Hyphenate check box is selected.
  6. Click on OK.

Now, when you choose to do an automatic hyphenation, all the paragraphs formatted for no hyphenation are skipped, and only those paragraphs that are not formatted that way are hyphenated. If you use styles, of course, you can make this even easier by setting up some sort of paragraph style that has the hyphenation setting turned on or off according to your needs.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13009) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Hyphenating a Selection.

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. ...

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