At least for German-language documents (and especially when using microtype) LaTeX, to my taste, puts too much emphasis on preventing hyphenation. Is there any parameter that can be changed so that, in favor of more consistent white spaces, more hyphenation is done?

  • That's a rather generic claim. You'll get better answers if you provide a brief compilable example that demonstrates what you describe. That will allow potential helpers to experiment. Sep 9, 2023 at 1:08
  • @barbarabeeton I don't claim anything. I'm just saying that I would like to have a different behaviour. My assumption was that there is probably some value that can be changed, like with widowpenalty for example.
    – keth-tex
    Sep 9, 2023 at 1:18
  • 1
    The passage "LaTeX puts too much emphasis on preventing hyphenation" sounds like a claim to me... Please clarify what you mean by "more consistent white spaces",
    – Mico
    Sep 9, 2023 at 4:45
  • 3
    try with \hyphenpenalty=-100 choose a value you like, default is 50 Sep 9, 2023 at 5:29
  • 2
    In addition to decreasing \hyphenpenalty you probably want to set \pretolerance=-1. Sep 9, 2023 at 7:38

1 Answer 1


The penalty for adding a hyphen \hyphenpenalty set to 50 by default (in plain and in latex) you can set this to say \hyphenpenalty=-100 which will make it prefer to add hyphens (using negative values may be excessive, but you can experiment...)

You can also adjust the demerits that discourage consecutive lines with hyphens or hyphens on the penultimate line of the paragraph.

The TeXBook says:

A line whose badness is 13 or more has a glue set ratio exceeding 50%. We call such a line tight if its glue had to shrink, loose if its glue had to stretch, and very loose if it had to stretch so much that the badness is 100 or more. But if the badness is 12 or less we say that the line is decent Two adjacent lines are said to be visually incompatible if their classifications are not adjacent, i.e., if a tight line is next to a loose or very loose line, or if a decent line is next to a very loose one.


If two consecutive lines are visually incompatible, in the sense explained a minute ago, the current value of \adjdemerits is added to d. If two consecutive lines end with discretionary breaks, the \doublehyphendemerits are added. And if the second-last line of the entire paragraph ends with a discretionary, the \finalhyphendemerits are added. Plain TeX sets up the values \adjdemerits=10000, \doublehyphendemerits=10000, and finalhyphendemerits=5000. Demerits are in units of `badness squared,''

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