Correctly use punctuation in your content to help readers clearly understand your message.
A hyphen links words and word fragments, and creates compound nouns and adjectives.
Hyphens have no spaces either side.
- Full-time job
- High-quality service
- 2-hour flight
An en dash shows a range (e.g. dates or times) or a relationship between independent nouns.
En dashes have no spaces either side.
- See pages 213–224
- It's a 9–5 job
- The March–July period
- Mother–daughter relationship
- Hand–eye coordination
- Asia–Pacific region
An em dash is used to:
- amplify or explain
- show an abrupt change
- set a phrase apart within a sentence (like brackets).
Em dashes have no spaces either side.
It relates to the sports I played—soccer, cricket, volleyball, and rugby.
I have a meeting at 1pm—the details are unimportant.
Set a phrase apart
Transfer duty—formerly known as stamp duty—is payable online.
A colon introduces more information, such as a list or definition.
Colons have no capital afterwards except in subtitles (bulleted lists may differ).
Your options include:
- work alone
- work in a small team
- work in a large team.
- We provide benefits for employees: free breakfast, a weekly massage and drinks on Fridays.
- There was only one thing I wanted from my work: to change the world.
A semicolon connects related clauses that would be abrupt if made into separate sentences.
It also punctuates run-on lists where the list items have internal punctuation.
The ride lurched up and down; I felt sick.
Housing and Public Works; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships; and Queensland Health are government departments.
Both serve to introduce a related element but a dash is stronger (and more informal) than a colon.
A colon informs readers that something more is coming: the words that follow define or clarify what came before the colon.
A dash also introduces extra material but, because it interrupts the flow of the sentence, it’s a more dramatic way of telling the reader to get ready—something important is coming.