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How should hyphens be used?

  • To join some compound words into one word when the word reflects a single concept
    • The well-known doctor gained additional recognition when the results of her top-notch research were published.
    • Mother-in-law, five-year-old, better-than-usual
  • With a small group of prefixes and suffixes
    • ex-wife, post-World War II, pre-2000, treasurer-elect
  • In numbers and fractions that have been written out in words
    • seventy-six, one thousand twenty-five, one-eighth, two-thirds
  • To avoid confusion in meaning
    • re-vision (to look at something more than one time)
  • To avoid awkward letter combinations
    • anti-integration, non-negotiable, pre-engagement

Avoid misuse of hyphens

  • Do not use a hyphen in familiar compound words and terms
    • Pineapple, hometown, private school, bank account
  • Do not use a hyphen with most prefixes and suffixes
    • Prenuptial, unconscionable, collaborate