Did you mean to resign or re-sign? Words that need hyphens

by Laura Hale Brockway

Much has been written on PR Daily and Ragan.com about the hyphen, which I call the most tiresome punctuation mark of all time.

As the “AMA Manual of Style” says, “The hyphen is a connector; it may join what is similar and also what is disjunctive . . . it divides as well as marries.”

There are rules for when to use a hyphen and when not to use a hyphen, and different style manuals have different usage guidelines. Then there are the exceptions to the guidelines. And finally, when it comes to hyphens, all style guides include the catch-all phrase . . . “when in doubt, consult a dictionary.”

In this week’s post, we are going to discuss a very clear-cut hyphenation rule: hyphens within a word. Because meaning matters, some words are hyphenated to distinguish them from other words. What follows are words that need hyphens in order to keep their meanings clear.


That chair looks like it belongs in a funeral home. Let’s re-cover it before we put it in the reception area.

Has IT been able to recover any of the content that was lost when the CMS crashed?


The “new” navigation for the web site is just a re-creation of the old navigation.

Last year’s company picnic was more stress creation than recreation.



Our department has been re-formed with only two employees.

Jacob’s efforts to reform the pricing structure failed.



How can I re-pair these socks when one always disappears in the dryer?

You can’t repair everything with duct tape and WD-40.



You need to re-press that shirt. It looks like you slept in it.

I’ve repressed all memories from those years I worked with Diana.



Do you intend to re-sign the employment contract?

Susan had resolved to resign from her position.



We may need to re-treat your infection with a second antibiotic.

Our CEO will not retreat from his position on budgeting cuts.



The ads claimed the new detergent was “un-ionized.”

Would our jobs be different if we were unionized?
PR Daily readers, can you think of any other words that require hyphenation for clarity?


This article was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.





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