How to Conquer the Colon, Hyphen, and Other Grammar Oddities

by HeatherGeo








Punctuation is an important aspect of business writing and helps you communicate clearly. Here’s a quick run down on how to use the colon, hyphen, and em-dash.

  1. Colon: (:) Use at the end of a sentence to introduce list, chart, or table.

The top ten super foods to lose weight include:

  1. Hyphen: (-) The hyphen is used to join compound words, numbers, and to show a break in words.

Compound words: mother-in-law

Fractions and compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine

twenty-six-year-old writer

three-fourths, one-half, twenty-nine, fifty-five

Join words that are a single adjective before a noun

a well-paved highway





Tip: do not use a hyphen if the adjective follows the noun

The highway was well paved.

Use a hyphen with the prefixes ex, self, all, and the word elect




Governor-elect Jones

3. Em-Dash: (—) An em-dash is used to announce an abrupt change in thought within a sentence. Put a space on both sides of the dash in the following uses.

We will travel to Italy in June — if my raise is approved.

When the so-called Dream 9 — named for the Dream Act, which would provide them a path to legalization — attempted to re-enter the U.S. at Nogales, Ariz., they were arrested. (Cindy Carcamo Tribune Newspapers)

Use an Em—dash at the end of a quotation.

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance. —Alexander Pope

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