Real-world .... as an adjective

Subject: Real-world .... as an adjective
From: Jon Jacob Jinglehymerschmidt <techwritersf -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 09:18:10 -0700 (PDT)

Of course the phrase "real world" does not always have
a hyphen when it's a noun phrase ("Unlike my online
persona, I'm quite shy in the real world."), but I've
noticed a lot of people use a hyphen with it's used as
an adjective phrase.

For example, "Estimates are helpful, but you should
always perform real-world testing at peak load to
confirm your calculations."

I must confess that in the past I've written that, but
it came up in a professional situation --- and now
that I look at it closely I can't think of a rule that
would actually cause me to do that. And yet it looks
"right" to my eyes for some reason. The "real" on its
own (without the hyphen) looks odd in this usage to

Other people do it too. Even on the archives for
*this* list there are 725 posts that use that

Is the hyphen in real-world EVER appropriate?

One -- Can anyone confirm from some semi-authoritative
source that the hyphen is EVER appropriate for this
phrase when used as an adjective?

Two -- If not, is there a rule for hyphens in similar
situations such as adjective phrases that would apply
that would make this EVER appopriate?


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