Saturday, February 12, 2011

Colons, dashes, and hyphens


  1. They are a formal method of punctuation. They have rules.
  2. They must follow a complete sentence.
  3. Any information following the colon is complete, not partial.
  4. If you use the phrase "the following," or similar verbiage, a colon is required.
John wanted only one thing: to escape.
  1. A hyphen is not a dash.
  2. Dashes are created by typing two hyphens together (--).
    • In MS Word, AutoFormat can be configured to insert a single dash when two hyphens are typed together.
  3. You should not put a space before or after the dash.
  4. A dash can be used as an informal colon.
  5. A dash can show interrupted speech.
  6. Dashes can replace the commas of an appositive, if the appositive itself contains commas.
  7. Dashes can be used to highlight extra information in a sentence in order to make it stand out and capture the reader's focus.
    • Commas make extra information look ordinary.
    • Parenthesis make extra information look unassuming.
John only wanted one thing--to escape. 
Bill said, "Look--I just want to say--would you let me talk!" 
Bill--a successful, wealthy, and conceited judge--had been diagnosed with narcolepsy. 
John--the hospital's best surgeon--was also its most eligible bachelor. 
John, the hospital's best surgeon, was also its most eligible bachelor.
John (an eligible bachelor) was the hospital's best surgeon.
  1. Use a hyphen to join together words that form a single modifier that precede a noun.
  2. Use a hyphen when spelling the numbers twenty-one through ninety-nine.
  3. Use hyphens to separate a prefix that ends in the same vowel the root word begins with.
He was a well-respected professional.
As a professional, he was well respected.
You should re-experience Disney World at age fifty-two.

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