The Write Stuff
Summer 2006 Volume 2 Issue 3
Does This Need a Hyphen?
The issue of hyphenation is one that comes up quite regularly in my work. I often find myself inserting hyphens when clients have unwittingly omitted them. Using hyphens appropriately will make your writing easier to read; remember, as the author, you must provide your readers with the clearest possible “directions,” to ease their way through your prose.
When should you use a hyphen? Here are two simple rules to follow:
- Join two or more words serving as a single adjective before a noun with a hyphen. Examples: next-generation product, one-way street, two-faced individual.
- Also use a hyphen with the prefixes ex-, self- and all-; between a prefix and a capitalized word; and with figures or letters. Examples: ex-CEO, self-confidence, all-inclusive, anti-American, mid-’50s.
To Space or Not To Space
As I insert missing hyphens from clients’ work, I also often find myself deleting extra spaces they’ve used between sentences. Like many of you who learned typing on a typewriter, I was taught to put two spaces after a period (or other end-of-sentence punctuation). However, with the advent of computers, which proportionally space characters, it is no longer necessary to add that extra space.
Yes, folks, it is proper to have just one space between your sentences. Take a look at any book or magazine and you will never see two spaces there. This might be a hard habit to break, but you should do it. You’ll be tightening up your writing without changing a word!
Stay cool this summer…and be sure to call on me if you want some help with writing or editing.