Compound words may be written as
- two separate words (e.g., health care)
- one hyphenated word (e.g., self-esteem)
- one solid word (e.g., caregiver)
Hyphens in temporary compound words
If a compound word does not appear in the dictionary, it is called a temporary compound.
The most important principle for writing temporary compounds is to use hyphens in them to prevent misreading. For example, if a compound adjective appears before a noun, use a hyphen (e.g., decision-making behavior, high-anxiety group). However, if the compound adjective appears after the noun, a hyphen is usually unnecessary (e.g., behavior related to decision making, group with high anxiety).
The Publication Manual contains additional guidance on when to use hyphens (e.g., in conjunction with capitalized base words or numerals).
Hyphens with prefixes and suffixes
Words with prefixes and suffixes are usually written without a hyphen in APA Style. Some common examples are presented next. The Publication Manual contains additional prefixes and suffixes and corresponding examples that follow the same pattern as well as a handful of exceptions.