Hyphenation Strictness Levels help you to create better looking designs

Automatic hyphenation is an important tool to help you make text, especially in narrow columns, look good.


QuarkXPress has always featured an automatic hyphenation engine. In the early days it was improved frequently. Since Version 6.5, QuarkXPress uses technology provided by Dieckmann, which is seen as the best hyphenation engine available to-date.

“Extended 2” (in preferences) is the Dieckmann-based method.


The importance of automatic hyphenation is determined by two main factors: Language and amount of text.

Language; some languages have shorter words, whereas others have longer words, especially languages where words are compounded. English tends to use rather short words (with the exceptions, e.g. scientific articles). German words tend to be rather long, as they are being compounded. A good example is “Kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung” (motor vehicle liability insurance), which is even frequently used. In average, French has a bit shorter words than German; whereas Italian, Greek and Turkish words are typically even a bit longer.

And of course the amount of text has an effect: If you just have one sentence or one paragraph, you can hyphenate by hand. If you have several pages or even hundreds of spreads, you probably want an automatism to do this for you, ideally without having to check every instance.

What is hyphenation strictness in QuarkXPress?

QuarkXPress offers many parameter to fine-tune hyphenation, which can be found in the “Edit > H&Js” menu.

New in QX2018 is the “Strictness Level“. When you open a document last saved in QuarkXPress 7, 8, 9, 10, 2015, 2016 or 2017, then the “As 2017 and earlier” field will be enabled for H&J.

Strictness levels are defined like this:

1 – Hyphenate compounds words only, so maybe the best for titles and headlines.
2 – A few more hyphenations than level 1.
3 – Hyphenate where it still looks good, probably the best level to start with.
4 – Hyphenate many words but not where it might look strange.
5 – Hyphenate everywhere, where grammatically correct, best for very narrow columns.

QuarkXPress doesn’t offer pre-defined H&Js for the five levels above, so please create your own ones (or change the existing ones) based on your personal choice and aesthetic.


On the left, you see English text with strictness level 4 (default in QuarkXPress 2018 for ‘Standard” H&J).

One the right, you see the same text with strictness level 3.

Showing a hpyhenation example of English text with strictness level 4 in QuarkXPress 2018
English text with strictness level 4
Standard hyphenation with level 3
English text with strictness level 3

Available for many Languages

Strictness levels in QuarkXPress 2018 are available for all languages where QuarkXPress offers hyphenation.

QuarkXPress 2018 offers hyphenation for the following languages:

  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English (British)
  • English (US)
  • Estonian
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • German (Reformed)
  • German (Swiss)
  • German (Swiss Reformed)
  • Greek
  • Hungarian
  • Icelandic
  • Italian
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Norwegian (Bokmal)
  • Norwegian (Nynorsk)
  • Polish
  • Portuguese (Brazilian)
  • Portuguese (European)
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian

Two-minute Demo Video

Here’s a 2 min video demoing how to create and apply strictness levels:

Quote by a QuarkXPress user

»The new hyphenation levels further enhance QX’s already outstanding hyphenation correctness, which we have seen for years«, says Thomas Schuerger, editor and co-responsible for layout with German trade magazines like bauMAGAZIN and bauSICHERHEIT.  

»We have already used a combination of the long existing H&J flexibility with the new hyphenation strictness levels of QX2018 in several magazine productions. For perfect looking (small) text columns in form of not strange hyphenations either, nor large empty spaces between words in justified text, one would have to learn that the H&J minimum syllable length (›before‹ and ›after‹ setting) might have to be reduced compared with common practice up to QX2017.

The hyphenation strictness levels on their own will ensure a correct and mostly good visual hyphenation, which should not be ›broken‹ with a more traditional attempt of preventing ugly hyphenations with a larger syllable minimum length. At least for German, with its often very long compound words. Otherwise it is just like math with now two involving multiplication factors, where there only used to be one«, says Schuerger, who has been working with QuarkXPress for more than two decades. He and his colleague Brigitte Weixler also use the new hyphenation level 1 for unjustified text in German as well for unjustified picture captions.

»Level 1 reduces vastly the importance of H&J’s ›auto hyphenation‹ settings for unjustified picture captions – and saves a lot of time to eliminate ›sloppy‹ looking hyphenations on prominent visual parts of a magazine page. «

– Thomas Schuerger of Weixler-Schuerger.