Correct Use of Hyphens

In general, use hyphens:

  • Between syllables within a word
  • Divide a hyphenated word at the end of a line at the existing hyphen

Incorrect Use of Hyphens

In general, don’t use hyphens to:

  • Isolate a single letter
  • Hyphenate acronyms or abbreviations
  • Hyphenate the last word of a paragraph or page

As a Prefix

Before numbers or proper nouns:

pre-2001, post-Soviet Union

To clarify a concept:

re-create  is not the same as   recreate
re-cover   is not the same as   recover

With specific prefixes:

all-             all-knowing
ex-             ex-wife
self-           self-indulgent
half-           half-baked
quarter-    quarter-turn
cross-        cross-reference

Correct Use for Compound Words

Compound modifiers before a noun:

stock-market quotes, man-made lake

Compound numbers less than one hundred:

forty-seven, two-thirds, three hundred twenty-nine

Adjective-adverb combinations:

best-selling author, well-known athlete

Phrases used as adjectives:

state-of-the-art sound system, 12-page-per-minute laser printer

Numbers before a unit of measure and a noun:

11-inch paper, half-million-dollar withdrawals

Noun-participle combinations:

self-training book

Incorrect Use for Compound Words

Compound modifiers if the first word ends in -ly:

hastily made decision, easily assembled bookcase

Adverb-adjective combinations when the adverb cannot be misread as an adjective:

high level meeting, more common definition

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