Words being hyphenated across pages (plus general widows/orphans settings)

Fellow writers,
I’m trying to compile a manuscript as a paperback PDF, but I’m stuck on a few rather annoying problems. These are shown below in order of most annoying:

  1. Words are being hyphenated across pages. It doesn’t seem to matter if I select ‘prevent widows and orphans’ or not. (The section layout I’m using is ‘scene’ and I’m using default override formatting for this layout.)
  2. Words are being hyphenated at the end of lines.

Thanks in advance and apologies if I’m being thick.
Kind regards,

Of course. Where else would they be hyphenated?

You are a wonder to one and all. Yes, I’ve always preferred auto-hyphenation at the start of lines.
(I have silly days, but thankfully nothing quite that senile yet.)

I was expecting that in justifying the text Scrivener intelligently spaces the words on each line so that words aren’t hypenated at the end of lines.

Still hopeful of helpful replies…

That’s not possible in general, but if that’s the goal, turn off hyphenation entirely.


Avoiding hyphenation in justified text very often leads to weird kerning, especially if your text leans toward longish words. But hey, it’s your manuscript.

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Your compile format has hyphenation turned on. Turning off hypthenation sounds like what you want. Section 24.6 in the Scriv manual (mac edition).

Though if you want truly professional looking full justified text without hyphenation, you need a professional page layout program such as InDesign.

Even with their quite sophisticated kerning algorithm for this purpose, there is no substitute for the human eye. I have spent untold hours banishing whitespace rivulets and cleaning up cramped and strung out lines.


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Overall I guess 3 hyphenated words per paragraph is acceptable, so I’ve enabled hyphenation and opted to avoid widows and orphans. The only problem, though, is hyphenating words across pages. That should never happen, but is definitely happening.

(I’ve also asked Scrivener support if they might know how to counter that.)

But is there really a rule that hyphenation should not cross page boundaries? To double check my typographic intuitions, I just checked five random (fiction) books off my shelf from various major publishers. Every one of them had instances of hyphenation across page boundaries.

I also checked what my Bringhurst (aka typesetting bible) had to say about this.

So maybe the best and easiest solution for you is to abandon the scruple that has been driving you!


P.S. I am reminded, in all humility, of a similar case of my own. I had over years spent a lot of hours paging through typeset text in InDesign, implementing a rule that seemed to require a lot of manual attention: do not indent a paragraph that is at the top of the page (i.e., immediately after a page break). After years of babysitting this matter, I designed an InDesign macro to do it for me, thinking myself very clever. It was in relating my cleverness to an older brother — interested in typeface design and just starting to get interested in book design — that I started to wonder about that rule. He had never heard of it, and checked his book shelf and found many counterexamples. I was sure I had gotten this idea from Bringhurst, but no, Bringhurst has no such rule, and his own book is laid out in violation in my supposedly sacred dictum. Well, that’s life: live and unlearn!


No. Scrivener does not provide this level of control. For something like this, you should turn to a dedicated page layout tool.


If you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it – improving the reading experience --, you can break almost every rule (I’ve “invented” some myself, that turned out to be just my imagination). This works the other way around, too: Your layout may be 100 percent “by the book” – but won’t feel quite right. No algorithm can replace guts.

How bizarre! I randomly selected upwards of six novels and found no instances of word hyphenation across pages.

So, I have to wonder, are we referring to the same thing? It doesn’t bother me at all if the page ends with the first half a compound noun e.g. alarm-clock, mother-in-law, bird-of-prey etc. (I wasn’t looking for these when I was scouring those books for examples.)

But this is most definitely a problem:

[Page 1]
“I thank you,” he replied, “for your sympathy, but it is usless; my fate is nearly fulfilled. I wait but for one event, and then I shall repose in peace. I understand your feeling,” continued he, perceiv–

[Page 2]
ing that I wished to interrupt him; "but you are mistaken, my friend, if thus you will allow me …

I couldn’t find any examples of that. Did you?

GR, incidentally, how did you embed an image in your post. I tried to upload an image in my latest reply, but I received an error message stating it isn’t possible to upload media to posts.

I’d call that a page-turner. :eyes:

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As a new forum user, your trust level doesn’t allow media posts yet.

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Thanks, Kewms! (Adding a few additional characters here because posts can’t be under 20 chars. LOL)

I’ve been deemed responsible enough to upload an image:

Yes, all the instances I took note of were hyphenations of single words which would not otherwise be hyphenated. Did the books you looked at use end-line hyphenation at all? Surprising that all if them differed from mine!

But also note that the Bringhurst passage starts with “Some style books say…” and then goes on to say they are not right-thinking about this. So, there may be typesetters out there cleaving to such a style book. Apparently they don’t work for publishing houses that sell books I buy!

You cannot really go wrong with Bringhurst, though. A highly esteemed authority, I take it.

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I doubt readers care enough to justify all that, if they care at all. I certainly don’t, when I’m reading. Bigger annoyances, to me, include a line of dialog (a question) followed by two pages of exposition or action, and finally the answer, when I’ve forgotten the question. That’s annoying. A hyphen is nothing.

Yes, all the books I scoured used end-of-line hyphenation, just not single word hyphenation spanning different pages. Bizarre how you reached into your tranche and unearthed examples where it’s common and I reached into my dip and found no evidence that such a thing was ever done in print.

Reconnoiter from the living room coffee table: Found a St. Martins Press 2017 (Kristin Hannah) which did not to hyph at any page breaks that I spotted. Also a 1996 Random House (Atwood) that was the same. How likely is it in a 450 pages it woukd not happen on its own? Seems plausible someone was minding this feature in the typesetting.

On the other hand, here is a 2018 Penguin-Random House (Murakami) that does it. (This is the same size book as the Atwood.) And here is a small format 2012 Pantheon (Lightman) that does it too.

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