The hyphen (-) is a small line used to join words. Its main uses are:

  • Dividing a word at the end of a line
  • Joining a prefix in some cases, e.g. sub-Saharan
  • In permanent compounds such as Anglo-Saxon
  • In temporary compounds before a noun, e.g. a well-written paper

Hyphenation at the end of a line, where a normally unhyphenated word is divided to make lines more even, is usually done automatically (and relatively satisfactorily) by your word processor.

The other uses of the hyphen vary to some extent, so it is important follow the spelling and grammar checker on your computer or a single dictionary for consistency. A number of guidelines are given in the following pages.