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hyphen-minus -
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؋฿¢$֏ƒ£元 圆 圓 ¥ 円

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The hyphen-minus (-) is a character used in digital documents and computing to represent a hyphen (‐) or a minus sign (−).[1]

It is present in Unicode as code point U+002D - HYPHEN-MINUS; it is also in ASCII with the same value.


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.[2] 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.

Most programming languages, restricting themselves to 7-bit ASCII, use the hyphen-minus, rather than the Unicode character U+2212 MINUS SIGN, for denoting subtraction and negative numbers.[3][4]

The hyphen-minus is often used to represent an en dash, which may be used to indicate:

  • Ranges, such as a time range of "2000–2004".
  • Connection or direction, as in "The Los Angeles–London flight".
  • Compound adjectives, when there is already a hyphenated compound present, as in "He submitted his manuscript to an e-book–only publisher".[5][unreliable source]

The en dash is normally longer (the width of a letter "n") than a hyphen, though in a fixed-pitch or typewriter font there is no difference. The hyphen connects closely, the en dash less closely, while the em dash (the width of a letter "m") separates.[6]

The minus sign is nominally the same width as the plus sign, longer than a hyphen; an en dash, being closer to the right length, is sometimes preferred over the hyphen-minus to represent a minus sign when the Unicode minus is not available.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Jukka K. Korpela (2006). Unicode explained. O'Reilly. p. 382. ISBN 978-0-596-10121-3. 
  2. ^ Fischer, Eric. "The Evolution of Character Codes, 1874-1968" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  3. ^ Ritchie, Dennis (c. 1975). "C Reference Manual" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-07. 
  4. ^ "Haskell 2010 Language Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-07. 
  5. ^ Penn, Jordan (2016). "En dash". The Punctuation Guide. self-published. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  6. ^ "Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes". The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  7. ^ Hardesty, Ray E. (2010). Technical and Business Writing for Working Professionals. Xlibris. p. 90. ISBN 9781456819408. [self-published source]
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