The use of a single character for both hyphen and minus was a compromise made in the early days of fixed-width typewriters and computer displays. However, in proper typesetting and graphic design, there are distinct characters for hyphens, dashes, and the minus sign. Usage of the hyphen-minus nonetheless persists in many contexts, as it is well-known, easy to enter on keyboards, and in the same location in all common character sets.
The hyphen-minus is often used as an en dash. It may be used to indicate:
- Ranges, as in "2000–2004"
- Connection or direction, as in "The Los Angeles–London flight."
- Compound adjectives, as in "He submitted his manuscript to an e–book–only publisher"
Hyphen-minuses are often used instead of en-dashes in these cases, but this practice generally stems from ignorance of the en-dash and is not preferred.
- Jukka K. Korpela (2006). Unicode explained. O'Reilly. p. 382. ISBN 978-0-596-10121-3.
- Fischer, Eric. "The Evolution of Character Codes, 1874-1968" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-16.
- Ritchie, Dennis (c. 1975). "C Reference Manual" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-07.
- "Haskell 2010 Language Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-07.
- en-dash. The Punctuation Guide