Hyphenation and Justification
H&J is one of the more technical typographic terms, referring to the hyphenation and justification settings used specifically to create and control justified type. Hyphenation settings include three variables: the minimum number of characters before and after a hyphen; maximum number of consecutive lines ending with a hyphen; minimum word length that can be hyphenated. With certain software, the settings can also control the hyphenation of capitalized words, final words, and other seemingly small details that are often required styles for newspapers, magazines, or corporate materials.
Justification settings consist of minimum, desired, and maximum values for: spacing between letters; spacing between words; and in some cases, how much the glyphs themselves can be stretched or squeezed. (Note that most type and design professionals consider glyph scaling to be a type crime.) Justification parameters can also include other more specific settings, such as how to treat a partial line or single word appearing at the end of a paragraph – fully justified, flush left, flush right, or centered.
Page-layout software uses a combination of both hyphenation and justification to achieve the best results. While preset H&J settings are intended to work well for general use, they are not one-size-fits-all. These settings can be customized to minimize stretching or squeezing and to maximize readability – as well as to take into account a client’s needs and preferences.
Several factors can affect H&J settings. These include the typeface(s) being used, line length and/or column width, as well as the overall design objective. For instance, in the case of newspapers and other publications where there is no time to hand-edit the type or copy, H&J settings might be very liberal, to fit in as much copy as possible, with less attention to readability and aesthetics. On the other hand, a higher-end, less ephemeral publication, brochure, or annual report might follow more rigorous type and design standards, including more conservative H&J settings, to keep the typography as natural, undistorted, and enticing to read as possible.
- Editor’s Note:Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. She conducts Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules! The designer's guide to professional typography, 4th edition, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.