Alternatively referred to as a dash, subtract, negative, or minus sign, the hyphen ( - ) is a punctuation mark found on the underscore key next to the "0" key on US keyboards. In the picture to the right, is an example of the hyphen and underscore key on top of the keyboard.
Where is the hyphen key on the keyboard?
Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the hyphen highlighted in blue on the main keyboard as well as the numeric keypad.
How to create the '-' symbol
Creating the '-' symbol on a U.S. keyboard
Tip: The hyphen is easier to use on the numeric keypad with math formulas.
Creating the '-' symbol on a smartphone or tablet
What is a hyphen used for on a computer?
With computers, the hyphen is commonly used in programming and mathematics to subtract one number from another. The following sections contain some examples of how a hyphen is used.
Hyphen in a math formula
In a math formula a hyphen is used to represent a subtraction (minus). For example, in the below formula you can see that 2 <minus> 1 is equal to 1.
2 - 1 = 1
Hyphen in word processors
In many word processors, an optional hyphen or hyphenation is automatically inserted when a word is cut off by the program because it has reached the end of a line. When formatting marks are enabled, these hyphens are represented with the conditional hyphen mark. A hyphen can also be used to create an en dash and em dash in many word processors by doing two or three hyphens next to each other.
Hyphen in a search
With Internet search engines, the hyphen is used as a boolean operator that tells the search not to include a result. For example, if you used the below search the search engine would return results containing "free," "computer," and "help" but would not return any results containing "expensive."
free computer help -expensive
A hyphen in English
Hyphens are used in some compound words as a way to make the word easier to read as well as help clarify words that are used together. For examples to-do, merry-go-round, high-risk, T-shirt, and sixty-six are all words with hyphens.
Other places with the minus symbol
A minus symbol or a horizontal line is a symbol used as an indication for decrease, remove, move up, or zoom out on software programs and hardware devices. On a Microsoft Windows keyboard the minus or underscore is also shown in the top right-hand side of a window to represent the minimize feature.