Re: Which hyphen for ZIP+4 codes?

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Wed Mar 09 2011 - 00:02:08 CST

  • Next message: William_J_G Overington: "Re: Which hyphen for ZIP+4 codes?"

    Shawn Steele wrote:

    > USPS zip+4 lookup software certainly isn't going to be expecting
    > anything other than ASCII hyphen-minus. (A friend used to work in
    > that field). If you're zip+4 has any chance of escaping into mailing
    > software I'd avoid anything else.

    Even if you intend to use the codes in print media, so that people just
    cannot copy the data as coded characters, I would stick to HYPHEN-MINUS in
    cases like this. The organizations that defined such code systems may have
    given no thought to the identity of hyphens, but if they had analysed the
    issue, the answer would most probably have been that the hyphen is the
    character that people commonly use as hyphen when typing on a typewriter or
    compuer terminal. And HYPHEN-MINUS is the character that has been used over
    and over again when typing in such codes.

    This implies that the hyphen in a zip code may look somewhat different than
    word hyphen, in typeset publications (since HYPHEN can look different from
    HYPHEN-MINUS in the same font, and typographically speaking it should, since
    HYPHEN should be fairly short whereas HYPHEN-MINUS should, and normally
    does, reflect its dual role). I would say that this is just how things
    should be, just like a HYPHEN in a program code sample need not (and
    preferably should not) look the same as word hyphen in natural-language


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