Are hyphens useful or can you leave them out?
I often receive questions about hyphens and in this blog I cover some of the most common ones. I have written a general blog about hyphens previously.
There is a quote attributed to the Oxford University Press style guide that is often used when talking about hyphens:
‘If you take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad.’
I do take hyphens seriously because I think they add clarity. Compare:
three monthly reports
more experienced workers
I also like hyphens in compound adjectives (long-term plan) and inconsistent use of hyphens in the same document irritates me. Does this make me mad? (No comments, please.)
Q: Should ‘below’ go before or after in the following sentence?
The information below
The below information
A: I think ‘the information below’ sounds better, but you could use either.
If you say ‘the information below’ you are treating ‘below’ as an adverb, and if you say ‘the below information’, it is an adjective. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/below)
Which is your preference?
Punctuation before quotes
Q: What punctuation should you use before quotes?
A: I would use a comma or a colon. It’s a style choice.
Q: Would you use a hyphen between the word ‘mid’ and a month of the year. For example:
The event occurred mid-October 2019.
The event occurred mid October 2019.
A: Americans use a hyphen with ‘mid’ when it is followed by a capitalised word (The Chicago Manual of Style). I couldn’t find any Australian references, but as you know, there is no universal agreement about hyphenation. I personally would use a hyphen because I think it looks better, but the meaning is clear with or without a hyphen.
I find the section on hyphens in The Chicago Manual of Style useful: If you have a copy, ‘mid’ is covered in section 4.
More words of 2019
Macquarie Dictionary – cancel culture
Merriam-Webster Dictionary – they
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Quote of the month
‘You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.’
Author Jodi Picoult
I offer several online writing and grammar courses.