Dividing a Word When Writing or Typing

Words 'be a visionary' showing visionary hyphenated at its syllables
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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

  1. 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
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

  1. Never divide a word within a syllable.
  2. Never divide an ending (suffix) of two syllables such as -able or -fully.
  3. Never divide a word with an ending of two letters such as -ed -er, -ic (exception -ly)
  4. Never divide a word so that one of the parts is a single letter.
  5. Never divide a word of one syllable.
  6. Never divide a word of fewer than five letters.
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Beare, Kenneth. "Dividing a Word When Writing or Typing." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/dividing-a-word-when-writing-or-typing-1211716. Beare, Kenneth. (2020, August 27). Dividing a Word When Writing or Typing. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/dividing-a-word-when-writing-or-typing-1211716 Beare, Kenneth. "Dividing a Word When Writing or Typing." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/dividing-a-word-when-writing-or-typing-1211716 (accessed February 4, 2023).