I use lualatex, but I believe this would apply to any *tex. I will narrow the question to Latin-based languages, so that we do not have to deal with special initial/final forms, required ligatures, and so forth. This is for text (not math) in any general document class.

Commands \lefthyphenmin and \righthyphenmin accept an integer number, which is the minimum number of characters at the end/beginning of a line, when a word is hyphenated. Packages babel and polyglossia load default settings for each chosen language. The user may manually change the values.

Now to my question: Do the hyphenation rules disregard any punctuation (or other non-letter symbol) that is attached to a word? Example: scarequotes versus “scarequotes” used mid-sentence. Assuming that hyphenation is allowed, I would expect both to hyphenate the same (or not), even though one word has curly quotes attached, and the other does not. In other words, I would not expect the quotes to count against the hyphenmins.

I could experiment with random text, but perhaps this is something generally known? Especially in French, with its added punctuation spacing, would it be different?

EDIT (in light of comments): If the language regards something as a letter, then I intend it to be a letter, in this context. For example, the English word wouldn't regards the apostrophe as a letter (I hope). I expect that in languages that use apostrphe, or something similar, at the beginning or end of words, it would be a letter.

  • Your hunch is correct: TeX's hyphenation rules apply to words, whether or not they're preceded or followed by quotation marks and/or punctuation marks.
    – Mico
    Oct 25, 2023 at 22:33
  • 2
    as @Mico says only letters count but any character can count as a letter in this sense (I think italian includes ' so that constructs using ' forms can get specific hypenation.) Oct 25, 2023 at 22:41
  • Please indicate whether you had cases such as the one mentioned by @DavidCarlisle in mind when you posted your query. (I must confess that I did not when I posted my initial comment...)
    – Mico
    Oct 25, 2023 at 22:44
  • Editing, in light of David and @Mico comments.
    – rallg
    Oct 25, 2023 at 23:49
  • @Mico I was actually thinking of French, with its added punctuation spacing. One the one hand, a use might enter text with manually typed spaces there. On the other hand, the user might not provide the spaces, and allow TeX to add it. No doubt there are other situations. But I know nothing about hyphenation in languages other than my own (USenglish).
    – rallg
    Oct 26, 2023 at 15:18

1 Answer 1


Your hunch is correct: TeX's hyphenation rules apply to words, whether or not they're preceded or followed by quotation marks and/or punctuation marks.

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% !TEX TS-program = lualatex





  • Good response. I had not thought of forcing hyphenation, using an artificially narrow document.
    – rallg
    Oct 25, 2023 at 23:53
  • 1
    Doesn't change anything in this answer, but "Hallowe'en" will be hyphenated between the two "l"s whether or not the apostrophe is there. (I think it just marks the end of the word; I can't offhand think of a more complicatedly apostrophised word that might reasonably be hyphenated.) Oct 26, 2023 at 3:34
  • @barbarabeeton Although it does not change the answer to this question, your comment is helpful. I might have asked about that!
    – rallg
    Oct 26, 2023 at 15:19

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