Copywriting Grammar: Hyphens

Copywriting Grammar: Hyphens


Hyphens (-)


Not to be confused with dashes (–), hyphens join two words so that they work together in modifying a noun. I’ve separated this from the other punctuation because rather than acting on the syntax of a sentence, it merely affects individual words and their meanings — in a very important way.

Here’s an example without a necessary hyphen:

Customers receive two hundred dollar rebates!

This sentence is ambiguous. The customer may be getting:

  • Two separate, one-hundred dollar rebates

    • Customers receive two hundred-dollar rebates!

  • Individual rebates worth two-hundred-dollars each

    • Customers receive two-hundred-dollar rebates!


Here’s a possible issue with our coffee-flavored televisions:

Order your black coffee television today!

You may think the offer is for a coffee television that is black, but what I really meant was:

Order your black-coffee television today!

Here, I’m very clear that the television is being modified by “black-coffee.” In other words, black-coffee is its own item thanks to the hyphen.