Amazon KDP Marketing And Promotion – New Book Launch!

Common Mistakes Self-Publishers Make with Hyphenation


In the realm of self-publishing, where authors take the reins of their literary creations, navigating the intricacies of grammar and punctuation is crucial for crafting a polished and professional manuscript. Among these nuances, hyphenation often poses a challenge, leading to a myriad of common errors that can detract from the overall quality of a self-published work.

This comprehensive guide delves into the depths of hyphenation, guiding self-publishers through the labyrinth of rules and exceptions that govern this aspect of writing. By understanding and avoiding these pitfalls, aspiring authors can elevate their work to new heights of clarity and sophistication, leaving a lasting impression on readers.

1. Misunderstanding the Purpose of Hyphens:

At the heart of effective hyphenation lies a clear understanding of its purpose. Hyphens serve as versatile tools that perform a range of functions in written text, including:

  • Compound Words: Joining two or more words to form a single concept, such as “self-publishing.”
  • Word Breaks: Splitting a word across two lines to maintain readability, especially at the end of a line.
  • Prefixes and Suffixes: Connecting prefixes (e.g., “anti-“) and suffixes (e.g., “-ment”) to root words.
  • Numbers: Separating large numbers into smaller, more manageable units (e.g., “twenty-five”).

Recognizing these functions is the first step towards mastering hyphenation and avoiding common mistakes.

2. Overusing Hyphens:

One of the most prevalent errors in hyphenation is the excessive use of hyphens. This can lead to a cluttered and disjointed reading experience, obscuring the intended meaning of the text. Over-hyphenation can manifest in several ways:

  • Unnecessary Hyphens: Adding hyphens to words that do not require them, such as “co-worker” or “every-day.”
  • Compound Words: Using hyphens to join words that have become firmly established as single units, such as “website” or “bookstore.”
  • Overly Complex Compounds: Creating hyphenated words that are excessively long or difficult to pronounce, hindering comprehension.

Avoiding this pitfall requires a keen eye for detail and a thorough understanding of the rules governing hyphenation.

3. Inconsistent Hyphenation:

Consistency is paramount in all aspects of writing, including hyphenation. Inconsistent use of hyphens can confuse readers and undermine the overall credibility of the work. This can occur in various forms:

  • Varying Hyphenation: Using hyphens in some instances of a word but not in others (e.g., “self-publishing” versus “self publishing”).
  • Changing Hyphenation Style: Switching between different hyphenation styles within the same document, such as using en dashes (-) and hyphens (-) interchangeably.
  • Inconsistent Word Breaks: Breaking words differently at the end of lines, resulting in an uneven and unprofessional appearance.

4. Ignoring Hyphenation Rules:

Hyphenation, like any aspect of grammar, is governed by a set of rules that help ensure consistency and clarity in writing. Disregarding these rules can lead to a myriad of errors, including:

  • Incorrectly Split Words: Breaking words at inappropriate points, resulting in awkward or confusing line breaks.
  • Misuse of Prefixes and Suffixes: Adding or omitting hyphens when joining prefixes and suffixes to root words, leading to incorrect spellings.
  • Inconsistent Capitalization: Capitalizing hyphenated words inconsistently, creating visual clutter and inconsistency.

Familiarizing oneself with the nuances of hyphenation rules is essential for avoiding these common pitfalls.

5. Overlooking the Importance of Readability:

Ultimately, the goal of hyphenation is to enhance readability and clarity for the reader. Excessive or incorrect hyphenation can hinder comprehension and create a disjointed reading experience. To ensure readability, consider the following:

  • Avoid Hyphenating Short Words: Hyphens should generally not be used with words of three syllables or less.
  • Use Hyphens Judiciously: Only hyphenate words when necessary to avoid ambiguity or improve readability.
  • Strive for Balance: Aim for a balanced approach to hyphenation, avoiding both over-hyphenation and under-hyphenation.

By keeping readability at the forefront, self-publishers can create a seamless and enjoyable reading experience for their audience.


Hyphenation, while often overlooked, plays a crucial role in the overall quality and professionalism of a self-published work. By understanding the purpose of hyphens, avoiding common pitfalls, and adhering to the rules of hyphenation, self-publishers can elevate their writing to new heights. Remember, effective hyphenation is not about following rigid rules blindly; it is about using hyphens judiciously to enhance clarity, consistency, and readability. With careful attention to detail and a keen eye for nuance, self-publishers can harness the power of hyphenation to create polished and engaging manuscripts that leave a lasting impression on readers.