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Why is Publisher hyphenating my words?

Why is Publisher hyphenating my words? That’s probably one of the most common questions I hear about Microsoft Publisher. There’s a good reason for it, but I understand if you want to disable it. So I’ll answer both questions.

How to stop Publisher from hyphenating words

To disable hyphenation in Publsiher, select a text box, then click the Text Box Tools Format tab on the Ribbon and locate the Text group. The Hyphenation dialog box will appear. Modify your hyphenation settings as desired. To remove all hyphenation, uncheck the box labeled Automatically hyphenate this story.

Why Publisher hyphenates

Publisher isn’t quite what I’d call a professional desktop publishing program, but hyphenation is one place where it tries. It’s been a long time, but as a former editor and publisher, I know one of the hardest things to do is cram everything you need onto a page. Hyphenation is an easy way to get just a few more words on the page, since you can squeeze a few syllables onto the end of each line.

It also makes the page read a little bit better. Those ragged edges on the far right can be a bit unattractive. Hyphenation makes those edges a little less ragged.

Finally, if you justify text, hyphenation makes justified text look a lot better. Justification is adding spaces in between words so the words fill each line. If you hyphenate, that reduces the number of spaces your software has to add, so the text looks more natural. I remember some of the journalism textbooks I read in the early 1990s telling me not to justify text unless my software also hyphenates. When you pick up a professionally published book or magazine, chances are it has hyphenated words in it.

So, while you certainly can turn off hyphenation in Publisher, I would actually recommend you don’t. Your publication will probably look better in the end with hyphenation enabled.

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