Best in class or Best-in-class? (Difference Explained)

If you’re wanting to show that someone or something is “best in class,” you might want to know how to spell it. This article will demonstrate when it works as more than one or two words and as a hyphenated variation, which should clear some things up!

Best in class vs. Best-in-class

“Best-in-class” should be hyphenated when a noun comes directly after it. This allows us to show that all three words are modifying the same noun. If the noun comes before the words, then “best in class” is correct without any hyphenation present.

Best in class or Best-in-class?

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “best-in-class” is the most popular choice of the two. This shows that it’s more common for a noun to come directly after the adjective form. However, “best in class” isn’t too far behind in this graph, showing it is still correct.

Best in class or Best-in-class - Statistics

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “best in class” as the official spelling variation. There is no direct mention of the hyphenated form, but it lists the three-word option as an adjective.

However, The Cambridge Dictionary also lists a few examples to help people to understand it. In said examples, “best-in-class” is written as a hyphenated word when a noun comes directly after it, which shows that AP Style is applied correctly.

If you’re struggling to understand how noun placement affects the hyphens, check these out:

  • Noun before: The company is the best in class, and I think you should listen to all the things they have to say.
  • Noun after: The best-in-class company has a lot of interesting views about this.

Best in class

“Best in class” works well as three separate words in many cases. It is an adjective form, but we use it mostly to modify nouns already written in the sentence. While it’s not the most popular choice, there are still many cases where nouns come before adjectives, and it works.

“Best in class” can always be left as three separate words when the noun it is modifying comes before it. It’s still an adjective when used in this way, but it does not rely on hyphens to help us define it.

These examples should help you to understand it better:

  1. We have started to deal with a company that’s best in class for this sort of thing.
  2. The best in class is on their way, and we’re going to make sure to dazzle them with what we’ve got.
  3. If you want to be the best in class, you’re going to need to find a way to be more innovative.
  4. The investors are looking to stake their claim on the company that’s best in class.


“Best-in-class” works well as an adjective form, but only when the noun comes directly after the words. If the noun comes before (or at any other part in the sentence), then it would be better to use the unhyphenated variation. This is in line with standardized English rules.

According to the AP Stylebook guidelines, you should always hyphenate multiple words when they are modifying the same noun. This is made clear when the noun comes directly after the group of words.

AP Style teaches us that words like “best-in-class” are acceptable in writing. We can use them to modify other nouns, so it’s best to make sure you know how hyphenation rules work before using them.

Check out some of these examples if you want to see it in action:

  1. The best-in-class company wants to sign you up for a new partnership deal
  2. This is the best-in-class kid we’ve seen in a long time, and he’s going to go places.
  3. You won’t get a best-in-class deal that comes near this in your lifetime, little man!
  4. Stop talking about the best-in-class technology and start helping us come up with something better!

Is “In-Class” Capitalized In The Word “Best-In-Class”?

No portion of the hyphenated form of “best-in-class” is a proper noun. Therefore, there is no reason to capitalize its end when we write it.

You might find that it’s useful to capitalize “in-class” when you write the word in a title. If your style means that you capitalize every other word, then it would make the most sense to capitalize each part of “best-in-class” to keep it in line.