The hyphen is both a mark of spelling and a mark of punctuation. When the hyphen is used to divide a word between syllables at the end of a line, it is a matter of punctuation.
A. Using the hyphen to divide words at the ends of lines. In dividing a word at the end of a line, make the division according to syllables. Each part of a divided word must be pronounceable. Never place a hyphen at the beginning of the second line.
1. Never divide a monosyllabic ( one-syllable ) word.
Ex. drive, piece, price, straight, house, fought
Do not divide the past tense and past participle forms of words that are pronounced as one-syllable words.
Ex. talked, timed, geared, served, pained, walked
2. Do not divide a word so that a single-letter syllable stands alone on the line.
Ex. around ( Not: a-round ); event ( Not: e-vent )
3. Do not divide a word so that a double-letter syllable follows the hyphen.
Ex. lighter ( Not: light-er ); nearly ( Not: near-ly ); sixty ( Not six-ty )
Avoid, if possible, dividing a word so that a double-letter syllable stands alone at the end of the line before the hyphen.
4. Do not split a syllable.
Ex. illus-trate ( Not: illust-rate ); prin-cipal (Not: princ-ipal );
ex-cept ( Not: exc-ept )
5. Whenever a word of three or more syllables is to be divided at a one-letter, write the one-letter syllable at the end of the line before the hyphen.
Ex. tele-phone ( Not: tel-ephone ); posi-tive ( Not: pos-itive )
6. Words ending with the suffix able, ible, or ical should be separated at the root and the suffix carried over to the next line.
Ex. collect-ible cler-ical desir-able
7. Avoid dividing a word so that a syllable without a vowel would be carried over to the next line.
Ex. couldn't ( Not: could-n't ); haven't ( Not: have-n't );
isn't ( Not: is-n't )
8. A word whose root ends with a double consonant should be divided after the double consonant.
Ex. miss-ing, sell-ing, bill-ing
9. With all other words, the separation should come between the doube letters.
Ex. excel-lent, com-mence, omis-sion, ship-ping, remit-tance
10. Avoid dividing already hyphenated words except at the hyphen.
Ex. first-rate, well-dressed, light-weight, self-explanatory,
B. Using the hyphen to join the parts of compound words. In addition to its use as a mark of punctuation in dividing words at the end of lines, the hyphen is also used to join the parts of compound words.
1. The hyphen is used between two or more words functioning as a single adjective and preceding the noun they modify.
Ex. A well-organized office staff; a ready-to-wear suit;
No hyphen is used between compound adjectives following the nouns or pronouns they modify.
The office staff is well organized.
He ordered a suit custom made.
We use a paper for our letters that is medium weight.
2. Use a hyphen with compound numbers written out when they function as adjectives.
Ex. thirty-four invoices sisty-seven unfilled orders
3. Use a hyphen in compound adjectives formed by joining a number
( written out or expressed in figures ) to a word indicating a unit measure.
a three-foot rule; an eight-hour day; a 40-kilometer trip;
an 18-page report
4. Use a hyphen with fractions written out when they function as adjectives; otherwise, the fractions are not hyphenated.
A two-thirds majority voted for the resolution.
Three quarters of the orders have already gone out.
5. When two compound adjectives with a common base modify the same noun, omit the base word following the first adjective but retain the hyphen.
We have listed three- and four-room apartments.
this molasses is sold in one- and two-quart bottles.
6. Compound words consisting of the prefix self and a stem ( or root ) should be separated by a hyphen.
Ex. self-contained; self-sufficient; self-made
Do not use a hyphen with compound words ending with -self, -ship,
-hood, or -ever
Ex. himself, frienship, boyhood, whatever
7. In most cases, a hyphen is used following the prefixes ex and vice.
Ex. ex-officio, ex-president, vice-chairman
8. Do not use a hyphen to join an adverb ending in -ly and an adjective or a participle following.
a carefully planned sales program
a perfectly designed suit
a neatly arranged schedule
9. Use a hyphen to avoid an ambiguous situation or to insure clearness. ( You may consult your dictionary for the proper use of the hyphen in specific instances. )