Dividing Words at End of Line

Hyphens are used to divide words at the end of a line when the word cannot fit on the remainder of the line.

It is best not to divide a word this way. If necessary for considerations of space or format, there are seven rules to follow.

1. Divide the word between syllables. This means, of course, that one-syllable words are never divided.

Incorrect:   Incorrect:   Correct:
sp-
orts
su-
pport
sup-
port

2. The hyphen goes at the end of the first line.

Incorrect:   Correct:  
sup
-port
sup-
port

3. Prefixes and suffixes make natural divisions.

Incorrect:   Correct:
in-
ternational  
inter-
national

(The prefix is inter.)

4. There should be at least two letters plus the hyphen on the first line and three letters on the second.

Incorrect:   Incorrect:   Correct:
e-
lect
supposed-  
ly
sup-
posedly

5. Do not divide proper nouns or proper adjectives.

Incorrect:   Correct:
Wash-
ington
Washington

6. Divide hyphenated word using the hyphen already in the word.

Incorrect:   Correct:
moth-
er-in-law   
mother-
in-law

7. Do not divide a word at the end of a line if the parts of the word will be on two separate pages. This is hard for the reader to follow.


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