Step-by-Step POD with CreateSpace, Step 9 (Hyphenation)

Hello there. Continuing my series on getting a novel ready for CreateSpace publication, we are now at Step 9. If you’ve stuck with me from the beginning, let me assure you, we are nearing the end of the process.

You have now reached the point in your novel formatting where you will need to address hyphenation. Will you do it, or won’t you? I initially attempted to avoid hyphenation all together by not using them, but found that the large white spaces on some lines caused by wrapped words just didn’t provide the professional appearance for which I was aiming. So I ended up trying different settings. One thing I learned in the process was this: Do NOT go through your document and verify the hyphenation until you are absolutely certain that you are happy with the other elements of your novel. Should you change layout, you will only end up doing the hyphenation again … unless, of course, you rely completely on the automated process that Word does, in which case this post will be of little interest to you.

Assuming you are still with me then … it is because you don’t want to end up doing the hyphenation of your novel more than once that I recommend doing a complete analysis of your novel before addressing hyphenation.  Verify the formatting you have done to this point. Check your page count. Your novel will now present you with a much more accurate page count than that estimated at the beginning of the process. Although it may change a bit during the widow and orphan process that I will address in the next post, it should no longer change much from here on out. So go back to the CreateSpace site, click on the Royalties tab, and play with the royalty calculator. Are you still happy with the page size you’ve chosen? What about the margins and gutter size? Print off a couple of pages to see what the gutter and margins looks like in print. Compare them to printed novels on your shelves. Check the layout. Are you completely happy with it? Or should the headers or footers be larger or smaller? How does the font size look? If there are any adjustments to make, now is the time to make them. If you make changes after the hyphenation process, or after the widow and orphan process that will follow in the next post, you will likely end up wasting time repeating the steps. Provided you feel content with things as they are so far, then you are ready to proceed with the final steps in getting your novel ready for print publication with CreateSpace.

So then, assuming you’ve chosen to do it at all, hyphenation is the next step. You may choose not to do it and your novel may look fine. However, if you scroll through your manuscript and find that the justification of the text has left large white spaces on some lines, you may decide that hyphenation is necessary for a professional appearance.

There are two ways to accomplish hyphenation.

Option One:

You can turn on automatic hyphenation and let Word do it for you. To do this, go to the Page Layout tab, and in the Page Setup icon group, click the down arrow beside “Hyphenation”. Choose “Hyphenation Options”. Uncheck the box beside “Hyphenate CAPS” because you don’t want Headings to hyphenate. Then set the hyphenation zone to .5” (or even .75″ if you prefer) instead of .25” to decrease the number of hyphens used, and in the next box, limit the number of consecutive hyphens to two. This means that no more than two lines in a row will end with hyphens. Even two can look strange at times, so you can set it to one if you prefer.

Next, select “Automatic” and let Word go through the document and do its thing. Once it’s finished, you will need to scroll through your manuscript checking the hyphenated words for ones that look odd. For example, if MS Word has hyphenated the last word of a paragraph, like “run-ning” so that the “ning” portion of the word is on a line by itself, it tends to look strange. I would choose to highlight that word, click on the diagonal arrow in the bottom corner of the Paragraph icon group on the menu, click the “Line and Page Breaks” tab and click the box that says, “Don’t hyphenate” under Formatting Exceptions. Word will then wrap the entire word instead of a portion of the word. Use your best judgment and remember that the goal here is a product that is as professional looking as you can make it. It’s time consuming, but it’s worth it.

Option Two:

If you find that you are entirely discontented with the way MS Word has hyphenated because there are too many words that appear oddly broken, you can choose to manually hyphenate the words in your document. Wait! Do NOT go through your manuscript manually adding the hyphens from your keyboard using the hyphen key (typically next to the zero). If you do this you are inserting “hard hyphens” meaning that, should your formatting change at all and the words no longer need to be hyphenated, they will still have hyphens in them; sometimes in the middle of a line. Trust me; you do not want this. When I say manually hyphenate, I merely mean that you choose the spot you want to insert the hyphen.

To digress briefly: It is possible to insert a “soft hyphen” or “optional hyphen” when you want to specify where a word will hyphenate if it has to wrap. For example, if you have the word nonprinting you may specify that you want it to break as non-printing rather than nonprint-ing. To do this, on the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Show/Hide button. Now click on the word where you want to insert the optional or soft hyphen. Press CTRL and the hyphen key (beside the zero). This will insert an optional hyphen that has a small dropped hook on the end. When you turn off Show/Hide, these optional hyphens will no longer be visible. And, they will only turn into actual hyphens if the word breaks at the end of the line. However, you would not want to hyphenate your entire novel in this way. It would take forever.

So, back to the topic at hand. As I said, “manual” hyphenation means that you choose the spot you want to insert the hyphen. To do this, you will follow the initial steps above in Option One until you get to the point where you need to select either “automatic” or “manual”. Rather than selecting “automatic” you will choose the “manual” option.

Word will then take you through the document showing you each of its recommendations for hyphenation. You can move the hyphen to a better spot anywhere left of the narrow vertical line it shows as the limit of space on the line for that word, or choose not to hyphenate the word at all. MS Word will often show multiple word break options. You can click the spot you prefer for the hyphen and go on to the next word. Again, this is a time consuming process, a bit more so than Option One, but well worth it if you want to avoid large white spaces in your novel.

And that’s it for hyphenation. I hope you find the post helpful, and the process of hyphenation not too daunting. Please check back for my next blog post where, as I mentioned earlier, I will address the question of widows and orphans.
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