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Perfect hyphenation/ justified type like top book publishers

Community Beginner ,
Mar 24, 2024 Mar 24, 2024

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Hey everyone, 

For the last weeks I have checked the hyphenation/ justified type from different top book publishers/Bestsellers on Amazon, specifically Novels. Their pages generally just look beautiful. 
They have few Hyphens but still an overall good looking Page without too much or too little of a Gap - it just seems perfectly balanced. 

Now, i tried to replicate that/ achieve a similar result (For the last weeks), but for some reason it doesn't work. I played with the sliders/Percentage within Indesign both within Hyphenation and Justification, watched different Tutorials on that, read through different articles, but I still get too much Hyphens - and if I configure it specifically for less Hyphens, the Gap just looks unbalanced... 

 

Just to give an example. You can find online a Tutorial from Charles Nix, the Creative Type Director from Monotype, where he does a very simple Video speficially on that. After I applied the settings, it just didn't look good in my eyes - too compressed and overall still too much Hyphenation on some pages. So I wonder, what is it that Top Book Publishers do, when preparing a Book for that. 

 

Here are the settings he recommenend:

 

Bildschirmfoto 2024-03-24 um 21.59.34.pngBildschirmfoto 2024-03-24 um 21.59.49.png 

 

And here is the result of his text.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2024-03-24 um 22.01.40.png

 

It looks definitely good yes. I count 5 Hyphens, which in my eyes should be the maximum on one page - but for some reason with my Document (Font: Adobe Garamond Pro / 11.5points) it is too compressed with that settings and still has on a lot of pages too much Hyphens.

Like i said before, i tried different settings within those 2 menus (Hyphenation/Justification) but I don't come to a result that can compare itself with the High-Class of Bookformatting. 

 

I also have to say, while closely looking on the text when applying Glyph Scaling of 98 /100 /102, I can definitely see the difference with some lines - definitely visibile for me. When choosing 99/100/101 it is much better, but then the Gap changes for some Paragraphs to something unbalanced...


For now I have no idea how those top Book publishers accomplish their beautiful Page-look. I thought i try my luck asking here with the hope that perhaps someone knows how to do that. 

Greetings
Yannic


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Experiment , How to , Publish online , Type

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Mar 24, 2024 Mar 24, 2024

I think to some extent you're finding what you're looking for; in sampling a dozen books from commercial publishers I find variation in the hyphenation that about matches what I would expect for any given combination of page size, font and margin size, and overall text density. Works from the best departments of the best publishers have commendably few hyphens, but denser nonfiction works have more, and even have "faults" such as stacked hyphens.

 

Novels tend to have relatively "soft" typesetti

...

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Community Expert ,
Mar 24, 2024 Mar 24, 2024

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I think to some extent you're finding what you're looking for; in sampling a dozen books from commercial publishers I find variation in the hyphenation that about matches what I would expect for any given combination of page size, font and margin size, and overall text density. Works from the best departments of the best publishers have commendably few hyphens, but denser nonfiction works have more, and even have "faults" such as stacked hyphens.

 

Novels tend to have relatively "soft" typesetting — large and loose — that allows a lot of room for tweaking away hyphens. One I glanced through appears to have no hyphenation at all, but that's with very loose spacing of both text and lines. One hyphen per page or spread is not unusual with a novel from a noted writer and a quality publisher.

 

Most nonfiction work is set much more densely and does not have the "elasticity" of fiction. Most nonfic I look at, with overall denser page typography, have no excess of hyphenation to my (slightly fussy) eye but do have at least a few on each page, sometimes five or six. The goal is not usually not to try to eliminate hyphens, but to minimize them, watch for bad word breaks, and do everthing you can to avoid 'stacks' — two on successive lines, or three, or more than a few within any paragraph, and always avoid a hyphen at the end of a page, if not column.

 

And, of course, the vocabulary in use has a huge effect. A novel using mostly simpler words can probably avoid hyphenation altogether, both because the 'soft' text flow has enough elasticity to avoid breaks and because many short words bypass the need altogether. A nonfiction book with a more advanced or academic vocabulary and probably 1.5 to 2 times average word length is going to struggle to keep clean, even typography and avoid hyphenation.

 

As for "how to do it" I think you have all the tools in front of you. It's a matter of choosing an overall page density that matches the material, then adjusting the hyphenation rules to minimize hyphens (and if possible completely avoid stacks or page-enders). There's no secret or trick there; it's up to you to adjust all the elements until you have the best result you can obtain by optimizing the "rules."

 

And then you go through paragraph by paragraph and apply a whole range of small tweaks to eliminate as many hyphens, especially "bad" ones, as you can. The two tools here are tracking (by tenths of of a point) applied to as small a section of the text as possible to "pop" a hyphen forward or back; and text horizontal scale, by 1% increments, used in place of or in combination with tracking (again, on as short a segment of text as you can) to move the hyphen. Done within small ranges and with some care, neither tweak will be noticeable to any reader.

 

There is also the luxury, if you have it, of rewriting short passages to move troublesome words to another location within the line. (As an author/publisher, I do it all the time. But as a publisher, even one with editorial license, you may not be able to .)

 

So the short answer to "how do quality publishers minimize hyphenation," is all of the above, coupled with acquired skill in using both the automatic and manual adjustments, and most importantly with the time to implement the latter tweaks line by line and paragraph by paragraph.

 

There is no second method that I know of.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 01, 2024 Apr 01, 2024

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Hey James Gifford, 

I truly appreciate your detailed response. Totally understand the points you made! Right after reading it (twice), I took action and gave it another go. I consider the result as good but came to the conclusion that there are certain areas, where it would be wise to hire a professional in order to get the Job done on a high level, as I imagine it.  

I mean there is a reason why Book Publishers have certain departments that focus on tasks like that - it's an art which requires a good artist that knows his/her craft well 🙂 

For now, I am well pleased and again wanna thank you alot for the time you took, in order to give me that great of a reply! 

All the best
Yannic



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Community Expert ,
Mar 24, 2024 Mar 24, 2024

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Hi @Yannic333 , Justifcation is a preference, so if you think the text is too tight just adjust your rules. You‘ve set a Desired Word Spacing of 85%, and the text has to set tight in order to follow your Desired setting. So this is going to loosen up the setting. If you turn on H&J Violations you can see the lines that can’t be set to your preference:

 

Screen Shot 29.png

 

 

Screen Shot 28.png

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 01, 2024 Apr 01, 2024

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Hey Rob, 

thank you very much for your reply!
Yes I understand what you describe and actually gave it "another go", after reading the replys in here - also partially with "Show H&J Violations" turned on - a great tool I must say!


As i mentioned above in my response to James, I consider my results as quite good for now but came to the conclusion that in order to reach the highest level possible, a professional should be hired, that knows his/her craft very well. 

For now I am satisfied how it went. Again, really appreciate your response! 

Greetings
Yannic




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Community Expert ,
Mar 25, 2024 Mar 25, 2024

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@Yannic333 

 

I won't comment on settings, etc. but whole page as a single paragraph - and it looks like it's much longer than one page - looks awful and unreadable...

 

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 01, 2024 Apr 01, 2024

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Hey Robert, 

I definitely understand your points. The Text from Charles Nix above was probably just used by him to give a simple example in a short Video on "How the applied settings can change the overall style to something better". It definitely looks different within a Page in a Novel, where you find direct speech etc. - In the end, I haven't used his settings, but adjusted them with the Help i received above from James and Rob. The result is fine, but high levels need from my point of view professionals that know exactly what they do. 


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