Just Your Type

Type, design, writing and other funny stuff

It’s just a hyphen. Right?

Adjectives describe something in more detail. A green car. A first job.

A compound adjective isn’t any fancier, it just takes two words to do one job. A blue-green car. Some first-hand experience. Really, we intend it to be a single descriptor—one word, really—so we use the hyphen to make it so. Without the hyphen, the reader can me misled: is a wild animal trainer someone who trains wild animals? Or an animal trainer who goes crazy at parties? Calling her a wild-animal trainer tames the sentence. It’s really a single description: what kind of trainer? The wild-animal kind.

So if you see a man eating chicken, ask for a bite. If it’s a man-eating chicken, you’re the one who’s going to get bit.

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Previously on Just Your Type:

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Dot… dot… dot…

So I was thinking… how fast can I introduce improper use of the ellipsis?Not bad, eh? Just three words in.Strictly speaking, the ellipse is used to when something is missing or unfinished. Like when I quote “Four score and seven years ago…” and don’t finish the rest...

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Do you have to dash?

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So you have a train of thought—you get siderailed—then you get back on track. That's a good time to use a dash. To make it you just type two hyphens--Ooohhhh, no you don't.A hyphen is a hyphen. Find it between the 0 and the = on your keyboard. It's used to...

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Who's this guy?

"Mick" is Michael Campbell, a book designer, graphic artist and writer. His humor column, The Dumpster, closes every issue of Food & Spirits Magazine. Author of Are You Going To Eat That?, and the new 2017 book of seventy hilarious all new essays, Of Mice and Me.
A singer songwriter too. New CD My Turn Now is available now!