How To Use Hyphens

edit scissors

Hyphens aren’t as simple as they may seem. A simple hyphen (-) has a very different usage to a long hyphen (–), or em dash to use the correct term.

Short hyphens (-) are used as regular hyphens, to be applied to compound word phrases (eg, self-satisfied). Whereas em dashes are used where the sentence needs to be broken to explain further. Below are examples:

  • Here is an explanation of the term – which I will reference below – which should help.
  • A plan was to follow – but it wasn’t explained.

On Macs, hyphens are typed using the button right of the 0 key (-), whereas em dashes are typed by pressing alt and the button to the right of the 0 key (ie, the – key). I rarely use PCs, but apparently you can type an em dash by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Minus.

If you have any questions about the English language or need help getting your document into shape, then please get in touch with me. I will sort out all the English on every document you have and make sure it’s uses perfect English!

All you have to do is mail me at or visit my contact page.

I guarantee a great service at a great price, so please get in touch.

Published by proofistheword

I am a fully qualified proofreader and sub-editor with over 19 years' experience in the publishing industry. I am now a full-time freelance proofreader and sub-editor, and am available to sub-edit and proofread anything you need! Please get in touch.

3 thoughts on “How To Use Hyphens

All you have to do is email me at!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: