Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes
Q. I seem to remember from somewhere that breaking a word from the recto page to the verso page should be avoided. I can’t find such a rule in The Chicago Manual of Style. Is this a figment of my imagination? Also, what about breaking a word from the verso page to the recto page?
A. Say you’re preparing a 428-page book for print. Once you’re done composing and pagination is final, would you go to the trouble to check each page ending for a hyphen? Because as far as I know, it can be quite difficult to get your software to suppress such hyphens. And each time corrections are made, will you then check again for page-ending hyphens, in case page endings have shifted? I wouldn’t—not when the computer has been nice enough to flow pages and hyphenate words for me when necessary (not to mention setting up PostScript files for the printer). Moreover, readers are obligated, especially when a sentence spans two pages, to continue to the next page, hyphen or no hyphen. Now if I were typesetting the pages manually, in AD 1702, and I got to the end of a page, I’d probably try to avoid hyphenation. After all, it’s a nicety. Sparing a hyphen means sparing the reader from a second or so of being suspended in the middle of a word.
Some of our editors will occasionally ask for a correction at page-proof stage if the first part of a word that has broken across two pages does not, even with the help of context, give a good indication of what the rest of the word will be. Our manual, by the way, is not altogether silent on this issue: the sixteenth edition includes a handful of recto–verso and verso–recto hyphens.