web and email addresses

Don’t hyphenate

Web addresses iden­tify a loca­tion on the Inter­net. They usu­ally look like http://www.some­l­ong­name.com/folder/sub­folder/page.html. Email addresses usu­ally take the form name­of­per­son@some­l­ong name.com.

Web addresses present two prob­lems.

The first prob­lem: web addresses can be long. Really, really long. Run­ning the whole web address may be fine if you’re writ­ing a law-review foot­note and just need to show where you got your mate­r­ial. But it’s use­less if you’re hop­ing read­ers will type the address on their own.

For a more usable web address, use an address-short­en­ing ser­vice like TinyURL or Bit.ly. These ser­vices take a web address of any length and con­vert it into a short address like http://tinyurl.com/p5wf3c. This is eas­ier to read and type. But it doesn’t reveal the under­ly­ing web address. It also isn’t guar­an­teed to work per­ma­nently.

If you put a web address in a cita­tion, con­sider run­ning the long ver­sion with a short­ened ver­sion next to it. Then you’re cov­ered.

The sec­ond prob­lem: web addresses are dif­fi­cult to wrap onto mul­ti­ple lines. A web address is one unbro­ken string of char­ac­ters. You don’t want your web address hyphen­ated, because read­ers will likely mis­take the hyphens for part of the address. There­fore, use hard line breaks to set the points where the web address should wrap onto the next line.

Email addresses are shorter than web addresses and thus not as painful. But they shouldn’t be hyphen­ated either, for the same rea­sons.