Getting focused on close up vs. close-up

Often when editing manuscripts, I find writers have mixed up “close up” and “close-up.” Let’s quick take a magnifying glass to these two words and examine when each should be used.

If you want to say that the space or distance between two objects or places has decreased, you’re looking for “close up.” In this case, the word is a verb, as in “Our faster rockets will close up the time needed to travel from the Earth to Mars.”

If you want to say that something is at close range, you’re looking for “close-up.” Such a word is a noun, adjective or an adverb in your sentence. To wit, “The movie director called for a close-up of the star’s face” (noun) or “Let’s get a close-up view of those ants with that magnifying glass” (adjective).


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.