can you use – in email address

Can You Use “-” in an Email Address?

Email addresses are a fundamental part of our digital lives, allowing us to communicate and connect with others online. However, there is often confusion surrounding the use of certain characters in email addresses, such as the hyphen or dash (“-“). In this article, we will explore whether or not you can use a hyphen in an email address, the reasons behind any restrictions, and alternative options available.

The Basics of Email Addresses

Before diving into the specifics of using a hyphen in an email address, it’s important to understand the basic structure of an email address. An email address consists of two main parts: the local part and the domain part. The local part is the portion before the “@” symbol, and the domain part is the portion after the “@” symbol.

The local part can contain a combination of letters, numbers, and certain special characters. The domain part typically consists of a domain name, such as “” or “”. Together, the local part and domain part create a unique identifier for each email address.

Allowed Characters in Email Addresses

When it comes to the local part of an email address, there are certain characters that are allowed and others that are not. According to the official email address format defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the local part can contain letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and a limited set of special characters.

The special characters allowed in the local part of an email address are:

  • Period (.)
  • Underscore (_)
  • Plus (+)
  • Equals (=)

These special characters can be used in combination with letters and numbers to create a unique local part for an email address. However, the hyphen or dash (“-“) is not included in the list of allowed special characters.

Reasons for Restricting the Use of Hyphens

The decision to exclude the hyphen from the list of allowed special characters in email addresses is not arbitrary. There are several reasons behind this restriction:

  1. Compatibility: The use of hyphens in email addresses can cause compatibility issues with certain email servers and systems. Some older email servers or software may not properly handle email addresses with hyphens, leading to delivery failures or other technical problems.
  2. Confusion: Hyphens can create confusion when reading or dictating email addresses. For example, the email address “” could be misinterpreted as “” or “”. This can lead to miscommunication and delivery issues.
  3. Domain Name Restrictions: In some cases, the domain name itself may not allow hyphens. For example, the top-level domain “.museum” does not allow hyphens in domain names. Therefore, using a hyphen in the local part of an email address would be incompatible with certain domain names.

Alternative Options

If you find yourself needing to use a hyphen in your email address, there are alternative options available:

  1. Underscore: The underscore character (_) is an allowed special character in email addresses. It can be used as a substitute for a hyphen, creating a visually similar email address. For example, “” could be used instead of “”.
  2. Concatenation: Instead of using a hyphen, you can concatenate words or phrases in the local part of your email address. For example, “” could be used instead of “”. This eliminates the need for a hyphen while still creating a unique email address.

It’s important to note that while these alternative options can be used, they may not be universally supported by all email servers and systems. It’s always a good idea to test your email address with different platforms to ensure compatibility.


Q: Can I use a hyphen in the domain part of an email address?

A: Yes, hyphens are allowed in the domain part of an email address. For example, “” is a valid email address.

Q: Are there any other characters that are not allowed in email addresses?

A: Yes, there are a few other characters that are not allowed in email addresses. These include spaces, quotes, commas, and other special characters. The specific restrictions may vary depending on the email service provider or system.

Q: Can I use a hyphen in my email display name?

A: Yes, you can use a hyphen in your email display name. The display name is the name that appears before the email address when you send an email. For example, “John Doe <>” is a valid display name.


In conclusion, the use of a hyphen or dash (“-“) in an email address is not allowed in the local part according to the official email address format. This restriction is in place to ensure compatibility, avoid confusion, and accommodate domain name restrictions. However, alternative options such as using an underscore or concatenating words can be used as substitutes for a hyphen. It’s important to test the compatibility of these alternative options with different email servers and systems to ensure successful delivery of emails.

While the restrictions on using a hyphen in an email address may seem limiting, they are in place to maintain the integrity and functionality of email communication. By understanding the reasons behind these restrictions and exploring alternative options, individuals can create unique and functional email addresses that meet their needs.


I am a technology writer specialize in mobile tech and gadgets. I have been covering the mobile industry for over 5 years and have watched the rapid evolution of smartphones and apps. My specialty is smartphone reviews and comparisons. I thoroughly tests each device's hardware, software, camera, battery life, and other key features. I provide in-depth, unbiased reviews to help readers determine which mobile gadgets best fit their needs and budgets.

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