Hyphens, the most commonly used (and misused) type of dash symbol. Let’s look at the common correct and incorrect usages of hyphens:

To create a compound word:

Correct example for compound wordIncorrect examples
Short-term accommodation.

Short term accommodation.

Incorrect because there is no hyphen highlighting the compound word. 

A well-known actor.

A well known actor.

Incorrect because there is no hyphen highlighting the compound word. 

A genome-wide analysis.

A genome wide analysis.

Incorrect because there is no hyphen highlighting the compound word. 

Maternally-methylated ICRs.

Maternally methylated ICRs.

Incorrect because there is no hyphen highlighting the compound word. 

To make a modification clear:

Correct example for modificationIncorrect examples
She is a foreign-car dealer.

She is a foreign car-dealer.

Incorrect because the hyphen is used on the noun and not the modification.

He is a small-business owner.

He is a small business-owner.

Incorrect because the hyphen is used on the noun and not the modification.

A thermodynamically-constrained model.

A thermodynamically constrained model.

Incorrect because there is no hyphen highlighting the compound word.

A chi-squared analysis.

A chi squared-analysis.

Incorrect because there is no hyphen highlighting the compound word.

For suspended compounds (also called hanging compounds):

Correct example for suspended compoundIncorrect examples
The short- and long-term memory analysis.

The short and long term memory analysis.

Incorrect because there are no hyphens indicating the suspended terms for the compound word.

Follow standard pre- and post-operative procedures.

Follow standard pre and post operative procedures.

Incorrect because there are no hyphens indicating the suspended terms for the compound word.

We analyzed both 3- and 10-year studies.

We analyzed both 3 and 10 year studies.

Incorrect because there are no hyphens indicating the suspended terms for the compound word.

The fine- and coarse-grained resolution.

The fine and coarse grained resolution.

Incorrect because there are no hyphens indicating the suspended terms for the compound word.

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