Hyphens and dashes
Follow our style guidance to learn when to use hyphens in compounds and, in very
specific cases, with prefixes, and when to apply en dashes in ranges. Do not use em dashes
if you can replace them with other punctuation marks, such as commas, semicolons, or
dedicated DITA elements (such as the
For most compound (two or more words) adjectives that precede a noun, include hyphens:
- Company-sensitive information
- Full-scale use cases
- High-level callout
- Left-aligned text boxes
- Sentence-case labels
- Well-known acronyms
If the compound adjective follows a noun, do not hyphenate:
- Correct: Use accepted acronyms that are well known.
- Incorrect: Use accepted acronyms that are well-known.
Do not hyphenate modifiers that end in -ly:
- Highly effective tool
- Regularly updated system
- Easily understood application
Hyphens with prefixes
For most prefixes, omit the hyphen. Notable exceptions are re-create and re-cover (to cover again; not to be confused with recover, which means to get back or regain):
Always spell the following words with a hyphen:
- follow-up (as an adjective and as a noun)
- time-out (as an adjective and as a noun)
Adverbs with the past participle
When combining an adverb with a past participle, omit the hyphen, for example:
- Correct: She is a highly educated person.
- Incorrect: She is a highly-educated person.
- Correct: Configuring an Apache server is an extremely complicated procedure.
- Incorrect: Configuring an Apache server is an extremely-complicated procedure.
Use en dashes in ranges of numbers and dates, without a space on either side. Do not use em dashes in technical documentation.
dltag (which visually separates terms from definitions) or complete sentences to capture this type of information.
- Correct: Leave a clearance of 1.02–1.77 in.
- Incorrect: Leave a clearance of 1.02 - 1.77 in.
- Correct: 2015–2017
- Incorrect: 2015-2017
- Correct: The Connector and Metadata wizard creates connectors for EJB, Java, and SQL.
- Incorrect: The Connector and Metadata wizard – Creates connectors for EJB, Java, and SQL.
- Correct: The information in your spreadsheet, such as numbers, formulas, and text, is stored in cells.
- Incorrect: The information in your spreadsheet—numbers, formulas, and text—is stored in cells.
- Correct: Follow the illustrations in the wizard; they can help you determine the type of connection.
- Incorrect: Follow the illustrations in the wizard—they can help you determine the type of connection.
Previous topic Commas Next topic Slashes