Hyphens, En dashes, Em dashes


Use a hyphen for certain compound adjectives that precede the modified noun.

            examples:      well-supported hypotheses

                                    nutrient-adjusted media


In general, do not use the hyphen if the compound adjective comes after the modified noun.

            example:         The hypothesis was well supported.              


Do not use the hyphen when the first word in the compound adjective is an adverb ending in ly.

            examples:      evenly spaced samples

                                    moderately buffered solutions


Use an en dash for ranges.

            examples:      pages 55–60

                                    pH 5.1–6.8


Also use an en dash for compound adjectives if the adjectives are of equal weight.

            example:         the oak–pine forest


Use an em dash for parenthetical information or to indicate a sudden break in thought.

            example:         The forest—the largest in North America—was thriving.


To insert an en dash or em dash in Microsoft Word, go to Insert, Symbol, Special Characters (in pull down menu).