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?


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.

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  • "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

While I know the "rule" is that you hyphenate when it's used as a modifier and don't hyphenate when it's not, I am going to beg to differ. I am writing copy with phrases like this: "an end user sends the message," and I think that NOT adding the hyphen is odd and eye-confusing. (Maybe not for techies, but what about the not-necessarily high-tech end users who are using our software?)

Read that last sentence: "high-tech end...users who are using..." Ok, so the "users" and "using" in the same sentence is not really acceptable--but you take the point? Without the hyphen, "end user" is somewhat unanchored and can attach itself to the word on either side--which would not be good.

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    Welcome to ELL and thanks for your answer. I'm commenting as a reviewer, since this is your first posting. I think your answer offers a lot of helpful information and I want to provide the feedback that it seems like a challenge to the questioner the way it's written. You state a contrary opinion in your first word and then at the end asked to be convinced otherwise. If you browse through the site and find answers with high scores, you'll find that most are written to be helpful and educational rather than challenging. This might prove to be a more successful approach in the end. Thanks again. – dwilli Oct 29 '19 at 2:12
  • I took the liberty of making your post more focused on answering the question. Please note that this is not a discussion or debate forum. Please answer the OP clearly in a civil tone that does not invite debate or discussion. – Em. Oct 29 '19 at 3:06

Hyphen means combined meaning. this is an end-user platform; makes sense as a noun.

Hyphen also means a missing aspect. It focuses on end-user networks as an adjective is defining a noun. end-user network.

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