on Writing Forward:
To the passive reader, it’s a short horizontal line that appears somewhere in a text, usually joining two words together.
To a writer, it’s something else entirely, but what? Is it a dash, a hyphen, or a minus sign?
More than once, I’ve been pecking away at my keyboard and stopped suddenly when confronted with this versatile and confounding punctuation mark.
Many people use dashes and hyphens interchangeably, which is understandable, since most of us use the exact same keyboard character for both dashes and hyphens. However, they are technically two completely different punctuation marks.
When you use these punctuation marks, do you know whether you’re using them as dashes or hyphens?