Are you writing hyphens in the wrong way?

Writing with hyphens can be tricky business. 

As with the word was, hyphens is another Achilles heel. Sometimes I sprinkle hyphens about like scattering rose petals at a wedding. Too many!

  Even some of the grammar programs disagree. But if you’ve ever published an ebook you’ll see what I mean. And a strayed hyphen can get left behind in print books too.

Hyphens can throw off the formatting until the reader becomes confused as to the meaning of the word. Don’t make the reader turn back pages to figure out what’s happening. 

So what to do with compound words?

Hyphen or not to hyphen that is the question.


And the answer can be found in a terrific article by Connie J. Jasperson which is filled with lots of do’s, don’ts and tips. Plus, she provides extensive words to remember. This is a definite bookmark.

What did I learn about using hyphens?

  • Even when using “made up” words, tread carefully.
    • Don’t use unless your make-believe world will explode without it. (Oops)
  • Single words and don’t need a hyphen.
  • Only use a hyphen to ensure the meaning of a word.
    • Like, roundup as in a rodeo, or round up as in a review or the next highest round number
  • Some compounds are improvised to fulfill a specific need.
  • There are permanent compounds and temporary compounds. (Who knew.)
  • When in doubt leave it out. Unless…
    • Your intended meaning is clear without the hyphen, leave it out.
  • Add special words and names to your manuscript style sheet.
    • Especially made up words.
    • This will help ensure consistency in your manuscript.
  • Oh, and a hyphen is not an En dash or an Em dash.

So much is packed in her article, I encourage you to click on her link and read the entire thing.

Hyphens #amwriting By Connie J. Jasperson 


Do you use hyphens Willie-Nillie?

What do you think?

Is this all old stuff to you?


Keep reading, here is another article on using this little devil.

The Punctuation Guide, Hyphen





Do you want to know just the right word?

Happens to me more than I’d like to admit!

I’ve found a tool to help!

I’m on a roll, typing like a maniac. 

Until I stumble over a word.

My writing comes to a screeching halt. A word isn’t right. But I don’t want to stop my progress. After all, I’m a writing maniac. So I use a placeholder, I’ll come back to this section later and figure out the right word or words to convey my thoughts.

However, I’ve now got an itch I can’t scratch. That thought, that missing word or phase will not leave me alone.

Ever happen to you?

My protagonist whispers he can’t work like this, it’s too unprofessional.

Sigh, okay, I cave, save what little progress I’ve made and return to my placeholder. So I…

  • Think, think, think, I’ve got nothing.
  • Look up the placeholder word. Huh? Not even close. What was I thinking?
  • Check thesaurus. What the hell?
  • Ask my protagonist. He’s left for coffee. Hope he gets two because my brain must be asleep.

Oh happy day! I StumbledUpon a great new website!

If y’all used this like forever, keep your gloating to yourself. Let me enjoy my new toy.

 OneLook’s thesaurus / reverse dictionary

This is a cool tool to find the word to match an idea or phrase. Maybe you’ve used the standard search available from the home page, which shows you a list of definition links for any word you type in. However, this is the reverse:

Onelook reverse-

  • Has filters.
    • Starts with, Number of letters, Related to, Rhymes with, Sounds like, etc.
  • A browser link for easy access.
    • Instructions click here
  • Wildcard option.
  • Generate a group of words on a subject.
    • books, cheese, TV shows, etc…
  • Find answers.
    • longest river in the US, friend of Big Bird on Sesame Street, etc.

Have you been using this reverse dictionary?

Think you might find this useful in the future?

Talk to me – comments are my all time favorite things.

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