I am pasting text into a text box in InDesign, I have a Paragraph Style set for that box and I am using "Justify with last line aligned left" (as seen in the screenshot).

I'm not sure how to turn off hyphenation for this paragraph, or is it bad practice to leave it on?

enter image description here

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    regarding tips and tricks: you can adjust character spacing (tracking) on phrases and partial paragraphs to spread out or contract areas of white space. Sometimes this is required to get rid of "widows" and "orphans," but it is also useful to get rid of "rivers." There is no reason that a paragraph needs to have the uniform tracking. The key is to set yourself limits though, because too much or too little tracking quickly becomes obvious to even the most oblivious reader.
    – horatio
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 15:04

5 Answers 5


As Lauren says, you can simply uncheck Hyphenation in the Paragraph panel or in the Hyphenation section of your Paragraph Style, but don't be too quick to throw away the hyphens. No hyphenation also tends to leave you in trouble when you have widows and orphans to deal with.

Some things worth considering:

Language: Hyphenation requires the language of the text to be identified correctly. You're using an English version of InDesign, but the default International English dictionary will NOT hyphenate your language correctly. You change this under Advanced Character Formats in the Style dialogs. (TIP: You can prevent a word from ever hyphenating by setting it to "[No Language]".)

Line width: Whether you can avoid hyphenation and still maintain even text color depends on the width of your measure (how long the line is) and the typeface. A narrow column of justified text (less than, say, 15 to 17 times the point size, depending on the typeface) will not set evenly without hyphenation except through very hard work and a lot of luck. You need to average 60 or more characters per line for justified text, more if you turn off hyphenation (and even then, you'll run into problems here and there).

Fine Tuning: Justification, by default, varies only the spaces between words, a hangover from the days of metal type when there wasn't much choice. InDesign gives you much more flexibility. You can successfully justify text without uneven color and with minimal or no hyphenation by using your ultra-modern software to emulate what the traditional scribes did by hand: vary the space between individual characters and the widths of the characters themselves. Gutenberg used no word spaces at all. He justified his text by varying character widths, as he had learned from studying the work of scribes.

InDesign can vary the spaces between words, the spaces between letters and the width of the characters themselves. Robert Bringhurst's classic "Elements of Typographic Style" is set justified, with the character spacing allowed to vary 3% either way and the glyphs to scale 2% wider or narrower.

Here's an example, in the Justification section of the Paragraph Style dialog or Paragraph panel:

Justification dialog

These are body copy settings from a book I'm currently designing. The text is 13/16 Garamond Premier Pro, on a 29 pica (roughly 122 mm) line, justified, with minimal hyphenation. It currently runs about one hyphen every couple of pages, with no hand tweaking at all.

justification sample

Typeface: Beware sans serif text. Many sans typefaces tend to look bad when they're justified. Their mathematical precision fights the variation of spacing that justification requires. Never use glyph scaling on a geometric or grotesk style typeface.


I just found out how to avoid hyphenation in a single word, which took me a long time, so I am posting it here for anyone else looking for it:

  1. Select the word you want to "keep together".
  2. Open the Character window/palette, it's on Cmd-T.
  3. Click the tiny menu in the upper-right corner of that window.
  4. Select the last option, no break.
  5. Voila!
  • Hi Markus! Welcome to GD.SE and thank you for posting this!
    – Yisela
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 21:15
  • This will only not-hyphenate the selected word (or phrase), and so is not exactly what the OP is looking for. Also: It's ever so slightly faster to insert a discretionary hyphen at the start of the word. InDesign will then regard the entire word unbreakable.
    – Jongware
    Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 11:34
  • +1 even though it doesn't address the OP's question, it's a very valuable technique and might be exactly what someone else (such as myself) was looking for when they stumbled on the question.
    – Tom Auger
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 14:32

1) To turn off hyphenation throughout the entire paragraph, go into your paragraph style, click on Hyphenation, and uncheck the first box, which says Hyphenate.

That being said...

2) No, it is NOT bad practice to hyphenate. In fact, if you have justified text, and you don't hyphenate, it is extremely difficult to read the body copy. InDesign will add hideous rivers of space throughout your text to force it to line up. It looks unprofessional (which is the mildest epithet I can use to describe it).

I would only ever consider turning off hyphenation if I were using left-flush ragged-right text, and it would only be if the client absolutely insisted. Hyphens are pretty invisible, with the occasional bad break which your hyphenation settings and two seconds of proofreading can catch.

Please consider just leaving the hyphens. They don't hurt anyone.

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    I have frequently used justified text without hyphens and without hideous rivers. Rivers can be dealt with, but it requires a lot of local adjustment.
    – horatio
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 16:36
  • @horatio what kind of adjustment do you mean ? Can you explain more... I mean without changing the size(heigh/width) of the text box. Any tips&tricks ? Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 20:56
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    Flavius -- It looked to me like you inserted your clarification into Lauren's answer rather than your question. I moved it so it's clear who's saying what. Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 0:06
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    "Please consider just leaving the hyphens. They don't hurt anyone." -- Yes, poor things. They get so little love, and the unemployment rate is just awful... :-) Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 1:47
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    I would also think hyphenation should be turned off in cases where one will be able to adjust text, font, margins, or other such parameters to yield a good layout (e.g. when setting copy for a three-paragraph ad whose layout doesn't need to match anything else).
    – supercat
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 19:38

My 0.02$: unfortunately these times people often forget about possibility to simply align text to the left. If you're about to use "justification" without hyphenation (as some already pointed out) you should be extra careful and pay close attention to what a program does to spaces between words. It's quite possible results will be disastrous. You'll get a nice block of text, but the text that'll loose its rythm and readability. You'll basically sacrifice outer structure for readability (the same potentialy nonsensical act as "vertical justification") and readability should be your paramount. In such case alignment to the left works in most cases much better. Alas, most people use "justification" wether it makes sense or not.

  • Close all your Documents (this makes any change global, so it applies to every new document afterwards)
  • with InDesign still open, Go to Type > Paragraph > Tip arrow options
  • Choose Hyphenation > shut it off

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