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10.1.8. Dashes and hyphens

(a)
Dashes. Short (or ‘en’) dashes may be used to punctuate a sentence instead of commas or brackets (see Sections 10.1.6(c) and 10.1.7(a)). They increase the contrast or emphasis of the text thus set off. However, use sparingly; use no more than one in a sentence, or – if used with inserted phrases – one set of paired dashes. Avoid using dashes in legislation.

When citing titles of publications or documents, use a short dash to separate the title from the subtitle.

The long (or ‘em’) dash can be used as a bullet point in lists (see Section 5.7).

(b)
Hyphens. As a general rule, the form used on the Oxford Dictionaries website should be followed.
(i)
Hyphenate:
nouns composed of a participle plus preposition:
They discussed the buying-in of sugar.
compound adjectives preceding the noun that they qualify:
up-to-date statistics, long-term policies, foot-and-mouth disease

Exception: value added tax.

Do not hyphenate:

adverb-adjective modifiers when the adverb ends in -ly:
newly industrialised developing countries
adverb-adjective modifiers when ‘ever’ is followed by a comparative adjective:
ever closer union

Many phrases are treated as compounds, and thus need a hyphen, only when used as modifiers:

up-to-date statistics, but the statistics are up to date
long-term effects, but effects in the long term

Other adjectives always take a hyphen:

carbon-neutral energy sources, and energy sources that are carbon-neutral
(ii)
Prefixes also take a hyphen:
anti-American, non-cooperative, co-responsibility levy, co-funded, self-employed

unless the prefix has become part of the word by usage:

cooperation, coordination, subsection, reshuffle, email
(iii)
Either ‘en’ dashes or hyphens are used to join related or contrasting pairs:
the Brussels–Paris route / the Brussels-Paris route
a current–voltage graph / a current-voltage graph
(iv)
Either ‘en’ dashes or hyphens are used to replace the word ‘to’ in a number or date range:
2010–2014 / 2010-2014
Last updated: 26.2.2020
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