Hyphenation -Reply

Subject: Hyphenation -Reply
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- SMTPLINK -dot- DELTECPOWER -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 1997 12:57:54 -0700

>Is there a simple rule of thumb when hyphenating two words? Does a
hyphen apply when the words mean something different when expressed
together than when expressed separately?

Simple? Absolutely not. This is not a simple thing you are dealing
with here<g>!! Somewhere in the front matter (or else the back
matter) to Webster's Third Unabridged Dictionary is a fine article
that goes into excruciating detail about compound words, as
hyphenated words are sometimes called. It's worth a look, at least
once in every writer's life because it will make you conscious of all
the possibilities. Nothing simple about it.

But you wanted something simple. Go to the chapter 6 of the Chicago
Manual of Style, particularly the section that begins with 6.32 and
Table 6-1 at the end of the chapter. That's fairly simple.

For something simpler yet, either find somebody to copy (like
Microsoft or IBM) or go with your gut feelings. Whatever you decide
to do, be consistent about it, and make a note of what your decision
was. As your decisions develop into a list, call that list your House
Style. Whatever you do, do not attempt to memorize House Style. No
sane person ever remembers all of those things you said you would do
-- honest! You might also find it useful to discuss your House Style
list from time to time with others in your company, including those
who write marketing copy and persons on the same level as, or
immediately above, you boss. You'd be amazed at how easy it is for
different groups within the same company to make opposite decisions
about a thing like hyphenating.

Bill Sullivan
bsullivan -at- deltecpower -dot- com
San Diego, Calfornia

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