Writing Tips

Use the hyphen correctly

A hyphen is a punctuation mark. We use the hyphen to:

  • Join two or more words to form a single word eg right-handed or free-for-all
  • Change a verb phrase (eg I don’t want to hold up proceedings ) into a noun (eg This is a hold-up)
  • Change a noun phrase (eg I have a date stamp on this form) into a verb (eg I date-stamped the envelope)
  • Join a prefix ending in a vowel to another word to prevent confusion (eg co-opt)
  • Join a prefix to a name or designation (eg anti-Christian, ex-wife)
  • Prevent repeating a common word in a list (eg two-, three- or four-member groups)
  • Clarify meaning (eg twenty-odd people attended the meeting)
  • Help reader understand the description attached to a noun (eg an up-to-date record or a well-known person)