I have just discovered that InDesign hypenation is both very smart and somewhat weird.

Test text:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur communications.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur bundespräsidenten.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur электрофикация.

If I set the language of the Basic Paragraph style to "English: USA", it hyphenates both English "communications" and German "bundespräsidenten":

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The text frame is 22 picas wide. The font is Minion Pro 12 pt.

The word "bundespräsidenten" is a German word, so it is not clear why it is hyphenated.

If I change the language to "German: 2006 Reform", the text is hyphenated exactly the same. The issue is ecactly the same: word "communications", as far as I know, doesn't exist in German, so it should not be hyphenated.

And if I change the language to "Russian", InDesign hyphenate the Russian word "электрофикация" and the English word "communications", but not the German word "bundespräsidenten":

enter image description here

So it seems that hyphenation for English words work just always, that is, independently of the language of the paragraph. And although the observed behaviour is very useful for my own workflow, I have a few small questions:

  • Does InDesign behaves the same way for you? (I use CS6.)
  • Does the current behaviour documented somewhere or is it just a "useful bug" instead?
  • How to disable it? That it, how to disable hyphenation for English words when the language of the paragraph is not English?
  • The language changes hypenation rule. Indesign does not know its a english word it just hyphenates according to the rules of the new language. Since your new language is in cyrillic letters it probably uses same rules as for english for latin chars. In languages that use same latin characters it does hyphenate english as per the language set so noncorrectly for english. But it still hyphenates.
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 8:40
  • InDesign is a piece of software, not a linguist. It doesn’t know what language a word is (there have been rumours about a language auto-detect feature like the one found in Word or Google Translate, but it’s not there yet, certainly not in CS6). How is InDesign supposed to know that communications is an English word? It might as well be French, for example. It is odd that by Russian rules it hyphenates communications but not Bundespräsidenten – that indicates that there’s a special subset of hyphenation rules for Latin characters different from the one used for English. Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


InDesign does not attempt to guess which language a given word is.

The way hyphenation (and spell check) works is that you manually select a language for a text and then InDesign applies the rules for that language to your text.

If you for example by mistake assign English language to a German text, InDesign will attempt to apply English hyphenation rules to the text. Most of the words won't be recognized, so it will have to use some general hyphenation rules for English.

If you have paragraphs with multiple languages, you have to manually assign the language to each word. You can set up Character Styles for this.

It's not hard to imagine InDesign getting some language autodetection feature in the future. But I can't really imagine a feature which spots single words in another language. Many languages have similar words. It would be very annoying if a word was constantly wrongly recognized as belonging to another language.

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