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Thanks for this posting. How can you add a soft hyphen when working in xhtml directly?

Richard Pipe

We are currently using this amazing bit of Javascript by Mathiasn at We have used it to create a little desktop environment. When it is working and you view source, you get the shy's. This can then be cut and pasted into anything. In our case into IGP:FLIP where the entities are automatically converted into UTF8 characters.

That's how this was done. It's crude, but since ePub hyphenation is just at the experimental level, it does the job for now. The default hyphenator may not be the one of your choice but that can be configured.

Hope that helps. Happy hyphenating.

Liz Castro

Richard, this is very helpful, thank you. And I love that paragraph with the long words... "Categories are ampliative!" Hear, hear!


the sad thing is hyphenated words won't be searchable (without space in between) on most devices, because they don't normalize them.

Richard Pipe

Steini, that is another excellent point. Your perspicacity is exceptional. Interestingly Firefox (the browser) Find handles it, except where the hyphen is active, ADE and Safari don't.

So now the "option mix" is getting even more interesting. You can have mock typography, but not find, or find and no typography. (I don't grace it with the term search!) I don't know about you but generally the find tools in readers are very, very sad.

We can now add this to the Safari bug list and wait.


And the same problem occurs when using the non-break space or narrow non-break space. ADE won't find a word combination separated with these signs, when you search with a normal space. Most browser seem to handle that, but they also fail on finding words with a non-breaking hyphen in it. It really is searchability vs. typography. And yes the find tools are very weak.

Richard Pipe

I will take a look at those other space typography issues. The find issue for novels (largely irrelevant - bookmarks are more useful), academic - essential - and don't drop indexes, and other reference materials is something I guess we have to wait for. The reason I did these tests was because publishers ask about typography control and presentation. I think we now have a pretty clear statement: You can have pseudo typography, but at present, you loose find functions - take your pick.

Meanwhile this journey is about the new kid on the block, iPad, and where we can take it, and for what purpose. The idea is to catalogue the limitations and unlock the potentials to bring relevance to e-publishing. Our next few test cases are looking exciting.

Blaine Cook

rePublish (my JS/HTML5 ePub reader) uses the soft hyphenation lib that Richard mentions. It works wonderfully, quickly, and seems to be pretty accurate in my experience.

Rather than embedding soft hyphenation in ePubs, I'd rather have a style hint so that ePubs can signal to the reader application where hyphenation is OK, and where it's not.

Ideally, CSS3 should have this support directly, but failing that it seems fairly sensible to put it in the ePub metadata.

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