Languages › English as a Second Language Dividing a Word When Writing or Typing Share Flipboard Email Print Marie Hickman / Getty Images English as a Second Language Writing Skills Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Reading Comprehension Grammar Business English Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated March 27, 2017 Sometimes it is necessary to divide a word at the end of the line because there is not enough space for the completion of the word. These days many computer programs automatically take care of this problem for you. However, if you are using a typewriter or handwriting on stationary it is useful to know these rules. In order to divide a word add a hyphen (-) typed without a space immediately after the first part of the divided word at the end of the line. For example ...The matter of job compen-sation is extremely important... Rules for Dividing Words Here are the most important rules to follow when dividing a word By syllable: Divide the word by syllables or units of sound. For example, important, im-por-tant - 'important' has three syllables; thinking, think-ing - 'thinking' has two syllables By structure: Divide the word into the smaller units of meaning from which the word is constructed. It may have a beginning (a prefix) such as un-, dis-, im-, etc., (im-portant, dis-interested) or an ending (a suffix) such as -able, -fully, (as in desirable, desir-able). By meaning: Decide how each part of the divided word is best understood in order that the word is easily recognized from the two parts. For example, compound words such as houseboat made up of two words combined to make a single word, house-boat. Here are six further rules to help you decide when and how to divide words. Never divide a word within a syllable.Never divide an ending (suffix) of two syllables such as -able or -fully.Never divide a word with an ending of two letters such as -ed -er, -ic (exception -ly)Never divide a word so that one of the parts is a single letter.Never divide a word of one syllable.Never divide a word of fewer than five letters.