User:Tony1/How to use hyphens and dashes
Hyphens and dashes are basic to stylish writing in English. Even if your readers aren't quite sure of the precise rules that govern their use, their reading will be easier and their comprehension aided by your systematic use of these punctuation marks. The Manual of Style clearly sets out how to use all three punctuation symbols: hyphens (-), en dashes (–) and em dashes (—). If these three symbols are hard to distinguish visually (- – —), you may need to change your font or browser to a standard one that renders them properly.
If you're unsure how to key in en and em dashes, please see this.
Here, we present texts in which hyphens and/or dashes may be either wrongly used or wrongly absent; in other words, some of the examples are wrong, and some are right. Remember, it's mostly a matter of:
- whether to use a symbol at all;
- if so, whether to use a hyphen or en dash; and in a few cases
- whether the symbol should be spaced or unspaced.
Em dashes are a quite separate beast, and much easier to use. Many writers don't use them at all; they use spaced en dashes – like this – instead of unspaced em dashes—like this—for their "interrupters". It's up to you.
The exercises: unfolding design. Each exercise below will present you with a portion of text in which you can correct the (mis)usage of hyphens and dashes. They are designed to be done in your head, without typing. Each one unfolds in stages that you control: first, the problem text, then a hint to help you along; then a solution; and finally an explanation.
Feedback is welcome on the talk page. For each exercise, decide on the answer in your mind before clicking on the solution. You may find this video on hyphens and dashes useful in conjuction with the exercises.