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I am writing an academic paper, and using the term "end user" many times. However, I am confused between "end user" and "end-user". My current policy is to use "end user" if it is used as a noun. For example,

The system is designed for end users.

If it is not used as a noun, I used 'end-user'. For example,

This is an end-user based platform.

It focuses on the end-user networks.

Is this correct hyphen usage? Should I consistently use one form throughout a paper?

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    It is normal to hyphenate compound nouns when they are used as adjectives, so what you are doing is correct. – Mick Jan 24 '17 at 1:17
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Even native speakers might be confused which to use, so the answer is really "both can be correct". "End user" is such a relatively recent term that there is no "standard" way to write it. However as Mick points out in his comment, it can be clearer to hyphenate compounds like this when using them as adjectives.

However, none of your examples make much sense. Every system is designed for "end users" because, by definition, that's who will be using it. The system can be better designed to make it easier for the end user, but saying something is "for end users" makes it sound like the writer doesn't know what "end user" means.

  • "end user" in my paper is used to refer to people who are not system administrators. In the area that I am studying (computer networks), there are many systems not designed for end users, so I think it will be fine. "The end user stands in contrast to users who support or maintain the product,[4] such as sysops, system administrators, database administrators,[5] information technology experts, software professionals and computer technicians" -- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_user – MaxHeap Jan 25 '17 at 23:39
  • @MaxHeap I guess it's fine if you clearly define what you mean. – Andrew Jan 25 '17 at 23:42

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