I have typeset a text that is justified and thus requires hyphenation to maintain the column width appropriately.

I was wondering if there is a rule of thumb for how words should be hyphenated?

The software I am using (Adobe InDesign) is hyphenating words like so:

'knowl-edge', 'cir-culation' and 'dif-ferent'

However, my client is saying this should be:

'know-ledge', 'circ-ulation' and 'diff-erent'

According to some websites I have found, the hyphenation done by InDesign is correct but I'm trying to understand why so I can explain why if necessary.

  • The rules that give rise to these hyphenations: dif-ferent — hyphenate between doubled letters; cir-culation — the maximum onset principle, which says hyphenate as far to the left as possible, consistent with the other rules. And knowl-edge — possibly don't hyphenate after a short vowel in an accented syllable. Commented May 27, 2022 at 21:31
  • Related.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


Hyphens at line endings in justified text occur at syllable breaks. InDesign automatically makes use of a database of words with their syllable divisions, I believe. "Use a hyphen to divide words at the end of a line if necessary, and make the break only between syllables." https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/punctuation/hyphen_use.html

You could show your client the dictionary entry for a relevant word.
For instance: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/knowledge

There is a break between “l” and “e.” Knowl·​edge. Therefore: knowl-edge.

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