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




Avoid costly mistakes and toss old rules

Out with the old and in with the new!

Although this may reveal more about my age than I would care to, please be polite and pretend not to notice.

Now that I’ve got this disclaimer out-of-the-way, I’ll continue.

  • Old rule, two spaces after a sentence end.
  • New rule. one space after a sentence.
  • Old rule, two lines after a paragraph.
  • New rule, one line after a paragraph.

When I first began the submission process I was rejected for formatting mistakes. Yes, sometimes your piece can be rejected not because of the grammar, spelling or plotting issues but because of formatting.

Years ago, I learned to type on a Selectric typewriter. Now this is where you politely pretend not to try to figure out how much time has passed. Anyway, I could type 90 words per minute, double space between sentences and enter a hard return between paragraphs without missing a beat. However, those rules went out the window when computers came in the door. typewriter-584696_640

I know, I know sometimes when you’re typing fast you sometimes forget not to hit the space bar twice. Even after all these years.

But it can cost you! So please check the rules on formatting for each entry before you hit send and make sure your document is in the right century.

Need more info on formatting? Keep reading I’ve added some links for your reading pleasure at the bottom of this post.

Have you ever had an entry rejected because you failed to format properly?

Ever noticed different formats for different entries?

I’d love to hear from you! Click the “write me” tab or contact me on Twitter @jeancogdell,Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

Six rules for manuscript formatting.

Writing Tip #36 (a.k.a. “Don’t Space Out”)

Manuscript preparation guide