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Should I refer to a tutorial as a how-to or a how to? Is there a grammatical rule for this?

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closed as general reference by Marthaª, kiamlaluno, Mehper C. Palavuzlar, FumbleFingers, simchona Dec 16 '11 at 5:42

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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When you're wondering whether something is a word, your first stop should be a dictionary. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/how-to shows that the hyphenated form can be used as both a noun and an adjective. –  Marthaª Dec 15 '11 at 14:53
    
A previous hyphen question has good answers and includes links to hyphenating how-to's. –  jwpat7 Dec 15 '11 at 15:42
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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

How-to

That is how it is to be written, as you mean a certain thing (the way) defined by the phrase. Without a hyphen it would not refer to the specific thing but just be a phrase.

Between

"The how-to of it all is explained in this tutorial."

and

"This tutorial shows how to do it all."

There is a distinct difference.

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Another comparison sentence would be something like "The steps for building this model are explained in the how-to available on our website" - i.e. using how-to as a noun rather than an adjective. –  Marthaª Dec 15 '11 at 14:51
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