In typesetting terms, hyphenation is the method of breaking words across lines, indicated by a hyphen at the break point. It is a complicated balancing act between typographic and linguistic concerns.
The typographic decision-making process is handled in several ways.
- Algorithms that attempt to make decisions based on a complex series of language-dependent rules. These often use syllabification as a big part of the logic.
- Dictionaries that compare the text to a set of predefined logical, weighted word breaks. In software, these can be application-based or operating system wide and can, in most cases, be modified by the user.
- A combination of algorithms and dictionaries, most commonly.
- Manually applied hyphens and line breaks placed by a typographer to fine tune spacing.
- Manually applied discretionary hyphens that the software will resort to as necessary.
- A combination of all of the above, in the most demanding typesetting environments.