Splitting brand names in editorial design

Godal's picture

Hi all,

I am currently working on a bi-annual magazine for a shopping destination. Our account managers and client seems to be under the impression that one can certainly not split a brand name over two lines, which I disagree with. I know it isn't ideal, but in a magazine literally full of brand names, I think its inevitable at some point. What are your thoughts on this, is this something you have dealt with before? Or have I just missed a very crucial typography memo?

The whole magazine is set in left aligned paragraphs, with no hyphenation.



Joe Pemberton's picture

Avoid hyphenating a name at all costs. But splitting a name like Calvin Klein is not a problem.

I'd recommend finding a style manual that you all can agree on (Chicago Style, New York Times manual, Wired Style, pick one.)

Godal's picture

Thanks Joe,

We don't use hyphens at all, be it names, brand names or just plain words. My query is more regarding wether you can split a name over two lines if its very long. Say you have a brand name that consists of 5-6 names – is it ok to have a line break between name 3 and 4?


Godal's picture

Ah just saw your second comment! Thanks again :)

JamesM's picture

When you say "it's inevitable at some point", do you mean it's inevitable that some broken brand names will slip past you? If you're using InDesign just apply the "no break" attribute to the names, and they will not break even if the text reflows later. Or better yet, create a character style for brand names and apply the "no break" attribute to the character style. You can also apply the "no break" attribute via the Find/Change command.

But of course you'll end up with some ugly line breaks.

Godal's picture


Yes I meant that in order to prevent ugly line breaks I find it very difficult not to break names here and there – although I do my best not to.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Anders, I re-read your post, saw you weren't really talking about hyphens at all and edited my comment.

Best of luck.

Nick Shinn's picture

And You Will Know Us By The TRAIL OF DEAD.

Oh, sorry, thot it woz band names…


This was nasty:

Godal's picture

Thanks for all the input guys, I'll definitely have a look out for a style manual or two in the near future. And Nick, that nasty indeed!


johndberry's picture

Anders –

Don't worry too much about breaking brand names, or any other kind of name. It's a ridiculous notion that names shouldn't be broken; doubly so when it's made-up brand names with intercaps. What I would avoid is breaking a name the first time it appears, if you can, especially if it's unfamiliar. I'd be much more comfortable (in an English-language context) breaking a name like "Fitzwilliam" or "Jackson" than, say, "Ouellebecq." When you do have to break a name, just like any other word, break it at a logical place: "Page[-]Maker" (to take an actual brand name that is easy to hyphenate).

I know you said you were eschewing all hyphens, but that sounds like an affectation. Even ragged-right copy needs words broken sometimes. It's important to keep in mind the difference between editorial decisions and typographic decisions.


Don McCahill's picture

> It's important to keep in mind the difference between editorial decisions and typographic decisions.

And if editors are telling you that hyphens are unacceptable, feel free to tell them to rewrite copy so that the prose does not result in bad typography. Most typographical problems can be edited away, but that is the editor's job, not the typographer's.

Godal's picture

John and Don,

great feedback – thank you very much! I am now printing this page, planning on sticking it on the wall in my office :-)


bowerbird's picture

i know you'd prefer an unequivocal answer.

but sometimes life isn't all that simple.

depending on the search capabilities of
whichever electronic tools people use
to view the digital copy of your work
-- please tell me you realize that the
digital version will have more readers,
and last longer, and spread farther --
you might wanna consider this approach:

if the parts of a name are sufficiently
unique that they have few "false alarms"
when you search for them, it's probably
fine to split them across a linebreak.

for instance, searching for "waterhouse"
lets you find "price waterhouse cooper".
so it'd probably be ok to split that one.

but "apple computer" would probably give
too many false alarms when searching for
"apple" or "computer", meaning that people
must search for the _phrase_, so i'd want
to prevent that name from being split...


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