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hyphen, hyphenated words

Try to avoid using hyphenation if possible.

When a prefix ends and a root word begins with the same vowel, some remain one word:

  • cooperate
  • cooperative (but co-op)
  • nonprofit
  • preeminent
  • reelect
  • reevaluate

Compound Nouns:

Some noun compounds are hyphenated:

  • brother-in-law
  • ex-president
  • follow-up
  • one-half
  • well-being
  • 18-year-old

Many noun compounds are not hyphenated:

  • day care
  • decision making
  • lowest common denominator
  • problem solving
  • vice president

Many compounds are written as one word:

  • copyediting
  • database
  • healthcare
  • statewide
  • workforce
  • workplace
  • workstation
  • worldwide

Compound Numbers:

Fractions are hyphenated when written out, especially when it begins a sentence. Three-fourths of the pizza was eaten. Seven thousand and thirty-five evictions were made.

A hyphen is always used between the numerator and denominator when a fraction is written out and used as an adjective.

Compound Adjectives:

Some compound adjectives are hyphenated:

  • 6-foot-6 shooting guard
  • 12th-century literature
  • 210-pound bait
  • blue-green eyes
  • best-selling book
  • matter-of-fact statement
  • problem-solving techniques
  • two-thirds majority
  • well-known man

Other compound adjective forms are not hyphenated:

  • northern New Jersey
  • day care center
  • food service industry
  • healthcare plan

Some compound adjective forms are written as one word:

  • catlike movements
  • statewide referendum

Adverb and a Verb (Hyphenated when the adverb doesn’t end in ‘ly):

  • an ill-favored hero
  • a plainly marked trail
  • a well-marked trail

Words with Prefixes:

When a prefix stands alone, it carries a hyphen:

  • over- and underused
  • macro- and microeconomics

Words formed with co- also are usually spelled without a hyphen, but note some exceptions:

  • co-author (no hyphen in verb form)
  • co-chairman
  • co-editor
  • co-host (no hyphen in verb form)
  • co-op
  • co-opt
  • cofounder (no hyphen)

Between a Prefix and a Proper Name:

  • mid-Atlantic
  • pre-Cambrian
  • pro-Doonesbury


When hyphenated words appear in headlines and titles, capitalize both words:

  • Non-Christian
  • Non-European


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