Using hyphens

Subject: Using hyphens
From: Harold Snyder <ENSNYDER -at- ECUVM1 -dot- BITNET>
Date: Fri, 26 May 1995 09:08:29 EDT


In _Technical Editing_ (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1991 ISBN: 0-534-15000-4),
Carolyn Rude suggests (pp. 142-45):

Adjective forms:

Use the hyphen:

* Adjective or noun + past participle (country-smoked ham; computer-
assisted editing; note this is used if the compound term prededes
the noun)

* Noun + presnt participle (decision-making procedures)

* Compounds with "all," "half," "high," or "low" (all-purpose facility,
all-or-none reaction, all-out effort, all-around student; half-raised
home; half-blooded Indian, but halfway house and halfhearted effort;
high-energy particles, high-grade disks, but high blood pressure

* Compounds with "well" (if they precede a noun: well-researched

Do not use the hyphen in compound adjectives

* The suffix -ly: highly motivated person, recently developed program)

* Two proper names (Latin American countries)

* Two nouns (blood pressure level

Unit modifiers:

Hyphenate when it precedes the noun it modifies (two-unit course, six-foot
fence, three 2-liter bottles

Predicate adjective are not hyphenated (the fence is six feet tall)

Make sure the phrase is a modifer and just a measure (a two-semester
course; but a course lasting two semester)

If there is a series of unit modifiers, repeat the hyphen after each
numeral (they offer two- and three-year scholarships)

Spelled-out fractions are hyphenated (three-fourths empty, one-half full)

Color terms:

Hyphenate two color terms of equal importance (blue-gray paper)

Do not hyphenate if one color term modifies (bluish gray paper)

Prefixes: check a dictionary.

She also gives counsel: "When in doubt, leave it out."

_Working With Words: A Concise Handbook for Media Writers and Editors_
(2nd ed.) by Brian S. Brooks & James L. Pinson (New York: St. Martin's,
1993 ISBN: 0-312-06662-7) discusses using hyphens with prefixes and
suffixes (pp. 209-11) and includes a fairly comprehensive list of "One
Word, Two Words or Hyphenated?" (pp. 211-28).

_The Chicago Manual of Style_ (14th ed) (Chicago: UP of Chicago, 1993 ISBN
0-226-10389-7 $40.00) wasn't very helpful.

Hope this answers some questions.



+ Hal Snyder, Professor of English | Technical Editing; Business, +
+ Dept. of English (GCB 2115) | Scientific, and Technical Writing +
+ East Carolina University | ENSNYDER -at- ECUVM -dot- CIS -dot- ECU -dot- EDU +
+ Greenville, NC 27858-4353 | ENSNYDER -at- ECUVM1 or Voice 919/328-6669 +

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