Hyphens and Dashes

Hyphens Versus Dashes

Hyphens are used to form compound units, e.g., first-rate, and with certain prefixes, e.g., semi-incapacitated.

Dashes are used when writing a range, e.g., 3–5 treatments. Em dashes are used to separate content within a sentence, e.g., a pile of vegetables—topped by an eggplant—caught his eye.

Hyphen or No Hyphen?

Use a hyphen when a compound modifier precedes a noun.

  • He is a well-behaved Chihuahua.

Do not use a hyphen when the compound modifier follows a verb, including the verb "to be".

  • The Chihuahua is well behaved.
  • The Chihuahua appears well behaved.


Don't see your question answered here? CUIMC uses the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook.

Go to the AP Stylebook