Variation is an essential feature of Early New High German orthography. I attribute this phenomenon to the exhortation to pursue stylistic diversification, a striving for which rhetoricians like Erasmus expressed support. The segmentation and transformation of written words in the 16th century shows that variation led to conditions favorable for an analysis that contributed to the establishment of new—morphological and syllabic—principles for spelling words. Examples such as <darvon> (instead of <daruon>) and <bisher> (instead of <biſher>) demonstrate morphological segmentation of the written word form. Distinctive syllabic features in historically unfounded spellings like <mehr> and <Jhar> call attention to a syllabic analysis. Both new spelling principles document a process of turning away from the segmental-phonographic practice that had prevailed prior to that time. These new spellings refer to a fundamental change in how the written word was perceived.