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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.

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
up vote 3 down vote accepted


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.


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


"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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