Hyphen use has been largely a matter of personal preference. The lack of definitive answers to hyphenation might create confusion, especially for non-native speakers and new writers. However, we, fortunately, have general guidance from the AP Stylebook on how to use hyphens.

You should primarily use hyphens to clarify meaning or produce a single idea from multiple words. Like these:

The HR Manager has the primary decision-making authority.

Our data-driven culture has helped us rise above the competition.

I re-sent the email. (vs. I resent the email.)

 

There are also a few cases where you should avoid hyphenating.

 

No hyphen is required for -ly adverbs.

Incorrect: We are a newly-established company.

Correct: We are a newly established company.

 

Incorrect: We come up with environmentally-friendly solutions to preserve our ecosystem.

Correct: We come up with environmentally friendly solutions to preserve our ecosystem.

 

Many compound expressions are hyphenated before a noun but not when they come after the noun they describe.

“A full-time copyeditor” vs. “She works full time.”

“An up-to-date method” vs. “The method is up to date.”

 

When in doubt, feel free to email your copyeditors.