In words consisting of small letters, the - hyphen seems right. In words (abbreviations, acronyms) consisting of capital letters, the common hyphen appears (at least imho) to be placed too low and to be too short (and en-dash too long). Is there a "capital-letter-hyphen-command"? (And what to use as hyphen between small and capital letters?) MWE:

pole-axe versus CD-ROM versus FamouseMusicGroup-CD versus A-side

At least the hyphen in CD-ROM looks "wrong" to me.


would be possible, but I assume that there is already a solution to this, isn't it?


top line: -

bottom line: \capitalhyphen

  • pole-axe - is OK
  • CD-ROM needs \capitalhyphen (or the command to use in this case)
  • FamouseMusicGroup-CD neither - nor \capitalhyphen seem to be ideal, but - is acceptable
  • A-side - is OK
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    I would say the typographically correct thing would be to use small caps for all-capital letter words. – Jake Apr 4 '12 at 18:45
  • @Jake: As \textsc{CD-ROM} generates the same output as CD-ROM, I assume that you propose to use \textsc{cd-rom}? – Stephen Apr 4 '12 at 18:51
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    Yes, exactly. That's also what Erik Spiekerman would do. – Jake Apr 4 '12 at 18:53
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    @Marco: At least in CD-ROM and A-list the hyphen is part of the word and not introduced by line-breaking, so it's not really a matter of choice. – Jake Apr 4 '12 at 19:56
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    @Jake: Another possibility is also {\large\textsc{cd-rom}}, which is between CD-ROM and \textsc{cd-rom}. And with \textscthe hyphen is placed "right" (i.e. as I would like to see it printed). Could you turn your comments into an answer, please? – Stephen Apr 5 '12 at 18:09

I would say the typographically correct thing would be to use small caps for all-capital letter words, for example CD-ROM would become \textsc{cd-rom}:

That way, the hyphen is aligned nicely with the surrounding letters, and the all-caps word doesn't stand out as much. This is also the solution suggested by Erik Spiekerman in his Typo Tips.

  • What would you do in case of hyphenated initials, as in J.-M. Doe? – yo' Jun 2 '14 at 16:40
  • @tohecz: They would be typeset in normal capitals – Jake Jun 2 '14 at 18:25
  • @Jake And you would use normal hyphen? (That's where my question aimed to.) – yo' Jun 2 '14 at 18:38
  • @tohecz: Yes, exactly – Jake Jun 2 '14 at 19:56

I am not sure that it needs to be longer than the normal size. Consider the following:

enter image description here

As you will observe the hyphen is as wide as one of the narrow letters. However, if you still looking to have it a bit wider you can consider to pick it up from a different font (the width varies with fonts) or select it from a larger size. (Image from wikipedia).

enter image description here

But perhaps the best advice is to use small caps as noted by Jake in the comments.

  • The length was just a secondary issue indeed. I just suspected that there would be a command/package/whatsoever for this, thus I mentioned it. Small caps is also my favourite. Thanks for the example! +1 – Stephen Apr 5 '12 at 18:14

Vertical alignment of rules is always a difficult matter in typography. Looking at this,


you might feel the horizontal strokes of B and e are not properly aligned. Rotis has a (radically?) different approach: Rotis

But it's really a matter of taste.

In my opinion, the negative effect of hyphens "jumping" vertically between different words is worse than that of hyphens looking slightly vertically misplaced for capitals.

  • The - is about aligned with the e in Beast, therefore in B-F it appears too low. Of course this is just a matter of taste. I checked a programme of someone from Redmond, but it is probably without significance that it uses the same hyphens between capital and small letters. – Stephen Apr 5 '12 at 18:20

Not sure if I understand your question the right way, but why don't you use the -- command as hyphen between words.

There are three types of hyphen

  • - to split words
  • -- to combine different words, e.g. CD-ROM
  • --- to seperate two sentences from each other

Here is a short example in the same order:

Three different hyphens

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    I don't think the use of the en-dash (--) to combine different words is correct (or customary, as there's really no wrong or right in typography). The Chicago Manual of Style suggests using en-dashes in compounds only if it joins a prefix with an "open compound" (so ex-girlfriend but ex--corporate executive). – Jake Apr 5 '12 at 9:40
  • I think (as it is just a matter of taste) that -- is too long, and it does not solve the issue that it is (for my taste) too low. But thanks for mentioning it! – Stephen Apr 5 '12 at 18:22

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