Dashes and hyphens aren’t the same thing.
- A hyphen makes compound words.
- An en dash (the shorter dash) expresses a range of values (times, years, dollar amounts).
- An em dash creates an interruption in a sentence like a semicolon, but with flair (we’re partial). (Keyboard equivalent: option+shift+hyphen, or in MS Word, two hyphens no spaces will auto-adjust.)
Don’t include a space on either side of a hyphen or dash.
Use a hyphen if you’re using the number with the unit of measure as an adjective. Don’t use a hyphen when writing terms like “Sign in” unless they’re an adjective describing a noun that follows (ex: sign-in screen). Never use a hyphen for verbs like “set up” when the noun version (setup) is a single word.
Compound adjectives can negatively impact readability, so we should use them sparingly and stick to ones that are commonly used or familiar.
For common prefixes, such as re-, pre-, non-, anti-, multi-, bi, and so forth, don’t use the hyphen.
Exceptions: e-commerce, e-file, e-pay, multi-user, non-posting, non-sufficient, sub-category
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