Should you write “Sign-up” or “sign up?”

Companies doing business on the internet often have a self-serve option for joining their service or product. But what to put in that tricky call to action (CTA)?

While what your CTA should say is an age old question that will never be fully answered, there are some popular ones that the vast majority of sites use. These include “Sign Up,” “Get Started,” “Join Now,” and a few others.

Let’s talk about “Sign Up” today, and whether you should use “Sign Up” or “Sign-up” in that call to action.

“Sign Up” vs “Sign-Up”

You should use “Sign Up” when signing up is the action you want the person to take. You should use “Sign-Up” as a noun when referring to the sign-up process.

  • “Sign Up” with two words is a verb.
  • “Sign-Up” hyphenated is a noun or an adjective.

Sign Up

Sign up is an action that one takes to do something, like join a software product or the military. The past is “signed up” and the active is “signing up.” It is used when you could otherwise use terms like “Enroll” or “Register.”

If using this terminology for your sign-up process, your CTA should be “Sign Up.”

Clear as mud, right?

Sign-Up

Sign-up is a noun that references the process or ability to, and it is an adjective when it modifies.

An example of sign-up as a noun is “Sign-ups for that season pass for skiing is this Saturday. Don’t miss out!”

Sign-up as an adjective is when it modifies a noun, such as “the sign-up form closes…” or “the sign-up process involves….”

What about “Signup”?

“Signup” returns 476 million (with an M) results when searched in Google with quote marks, but it is technically not correct and many of those results are actually the URL that says “/signup/” and not the actual words on the page.

“Signup” should be avoided if you are trying to be technically correct. There are instances, such as with SignUp.com, where it is branded and thus fine to use. Short of that though, you should use “sign up” as a verb and “sign-up” as a noun or adjective modifying something else.

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