The hyphen has several related uses and in every case it is used to show that what it is attached to does not make up a complete word by itself. Hyphens are mostly used to break single words into parts, or to join ordinarily separate words into single words. Spaces should not be placed between a hyphen and either of the words it connects except when using a suspended or ‘hanging’ hyphen (e.g. nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers). The main rules of thumb for using hyphens:
- Strive for clarity
- Don’t use a hyphen unless it’s necessary
- Where possible, follow established usage
Hyphens and compound modifiers
Use hyphens liberally here – they are often vital to comprehension. A light green dress is not the same as a light-green dress, a woman hating religion is not the same as a woman-hating religion, etc.
Some verbs need a hyphen to differentiate them from other verbs.
She recovered the sofa (i.e. got the sofa back) is not the same as she re-covered the sofa (she put a new cover on the sofa).
A definitive collection of hyphenation rules does not exist; rather, different manuals of style prescribe different usage guidelines. The rules of style that apply to dashes and hyphens have evolved to support ease of reading in complex constructions; editors often accept deviations from them that will support, rather than hinder, ease of reading. See Wikipedia for more information.
- When in doubt, consult a good dictionary, preferably Collins, since more conservative dictionaries frequently show hyphens which are no longer in normal use.
- Collins Gem Dictionary of English Spelling includes complete hyphenation guidance and is the book used by the UVC.
- Never hyphenate at a point in a word where correct pronunciation would be compromised. Example: to follow.
- Always turn of auto-hyphenation in Word! (Word 2003: - Tools » Language » Hyphenation; Word 2010: - Page Layout » Hyphenation)
|Last modified:||15 September 2017 9.00 p.m.|