Hi is a real word

The idiot blank creates confusion

Hyphenless: Examples of missing hyphens. Found in my kitchen cupboard. How does it look in your kitchen cupboard?

The word “spelled flour” does not exist in German. This is a compound word and therefore it has to be written together - “spelled flour” is therefore the correct spelling. If you want to emphasize the two individual nouns or make them easier to read, you can also use a hyphen. Then it would be called "spelled flour". (Although I personally wouldn't use the hyphen here, because this is a very short word that is easy to read even without a hyphen.) Everything else is grammatically incorrect and is colloquially referred to as "idiot spaces".

Reading stations

The big problem with this is that this idiot blank spreads as much as its colleague, the idiot apostrophe. Well-known media and career networks advertise their "intelligence test". A food manufacturer goes under the cannibals and sells "artichoke hearts" in cans. And the 2013 number will be measured at the “Hannover Messe 2013”. Optical impressions of these and other examples can be found on the Deppenleerzeichen.de page.

Because it is so widespread, copywriters must be particularly careful not to make this mistake. Because missing hyphens are troublemakers. They rob sentences of their meaning, let unrelated words dangle helplessly in the sentence and thus cause a lot of confusion, for example with the following headline:

"General power of attorney withdrawn"

Who or what has been withdrawn here? At first glance, the reader cannot say exactly whether it is a “general power of attorney” or a “general power of attorney”.

In order to avoid these unclear cases, words in German are either written together or connected with one another with a hyphen. In addition, one uses the Quarter quarter stroke or Divis, again hyphen is still called, also as Hyphen and supplementary line. In the following I would like to explain what the most important rules look like in detail.

The hyphen connects, divides, emphasizes and complements

  • The hyphen is used for Highlighting of individual elements word combinations to make it clear that these should be emphasized:
    • Top placement
    • I-addiction
    • understand
  • The hyphen marks a main separation joint:
    • Doll pram accessories (not: doll pram accessories)
  • Hyphens make it clear which ones different individual colors a piece of clothing or object consists of:
    • the yellow-orange t-shirt (The t-shirt is yellow and orange.)
    • the blue and red striped sweater (the sweater has the colors blue and red.)
  • Hyphens are also used to avoid misinterpretation:
    • Print product (= product of a printing company)
    • Printer certificate (= certificate from a printer)
  • Also at three matching letters the hyphen provides a better understanding:
    • Boat trip (or: boat trip)
    • Tea egg (or: tea egg → Admittedly, at first glance this word looks like it had a typo.)
    • Hawaiian Islands (or: Hawaiian Islands)
  • Contain compound words Groups of words, abbreviations, single letters or numbers, then a hyphen is set:
    • Make up
    • Dipl.-Päd.
    • UHT milk
    • the either-or
    • Abdominal influenza
    • 100 percent (but: 100%)
    • 100 m run
    • Vehicle registration office
    • UN Security Council
    • Department head
  • Longer nouns with infinitives is written with a hyphen so that it is easier to grasp and understand:
    • driving out of the skin
    • not-getting-in-again
    • not letting oneself get down

Tip: In such couplings, the first word, the substantiated verb (in the example above, for example, “Lassen”) and all nouns are capitalized. The remaining words are lower case.

  • Suffixes that are connected with a single letter, are always written with a hyphen:
    • x-fold
    • n-tel
    • for the umpteenth time
  • To have Word compounds have a common component, the hyphen indicates an omission. It then appears as a supplementary sign. Because it marks the end of the word, there is a space () after the hyphen:
    • the new autumn and winter fashion
    • the entry and exit (or: entry / exit)
    • the loading and unloading

And when does the hyphen disappear?

  • There is no hyphen if in connections the first adjective describes the meaning of the second in more detail:
  • Also Color word combinations get along without a hyphen when it comes toMixed colors acts:
    • the yellow-orange T-shirt (The T-shirt has a yellowish orange tone.)
    • the blue and red striped sweater (The sweater has bluish red stripes.)
  • Contrary to the general trend to place hyphens between every word combination (colloquially also: "idiot hyphen"), Short links do not require a hyphenbecause legibility is not endangered:
    • Bath mat
    • Carpet beater
    • Copywriter's Guide

Tip: Copywriters have to estimate for themselves when a word is perceived as incomprehensible because of its length. This works best when copywriters read the text aloud. As soon as you get stuck while reading, the word should be spelled with a hyphen.

  • The Duden recommends Compositions in which adjectives and participles come second, to write without a hyphen:
    • dripping with grease (better not: dripping with grease)
    • See-experience (better not: See-experience)
  • Become Compositions with infinitives are substantiated and are relatively short, the hyphen is omitted:
    • falling in love
    • becoming known
  • For suffixes that are connected with numbers or letters, there is no hyphen:
    • 68er
    • 10th
    • Nudists
    • 15% (but: 15%)

The rules are now clear, but what about the typographically correct character?

The hyphen is a short, horizontal line. A line is a line, many people think and simply use the hyphen as a universal line. However, it is not taken into account that other dashes such as the dash also fulfill other functions. Readers are very aware when they come across a misused character and react suspiciously. A professional copywriter must therefore always be careful to distinguish hyphens and hyphens. A good differentiator is length. The following picture illustrates this:


In Windows operating systems, the hyphen can be entered directly from the keyboard. It's located between the period and the right shift key. Further keyboard layouts can be found in the Wikipedia article.

You can read all the rules again on the Duden website. Canoo.net also provides many examples.

And what can I expect in the third part of the series?

Well, because we have already mentioned it here, it should also have its own contribution: We are talking about the dash.