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Hyphens

1.  Use a hyphen with compound adjectives. A compound adjective is formed when two or more adjectives work together to modify the same noun. These terms should be hyphenated to avoid confusion or ambiguity.
 
Incorrect: The black and blue mark suggested that he had been involved in an altercation.

Correct: The black-and-blue mark suggested that he had been involved in an altercation.

Incorrect: Her fifteen minute presentation proved decisive in the outcome of the case.

Correct: Her fifteen-minute presentation proved decisive in the outcome of the case.

2.  Do not use a hyphen after an adverb. Combining an adverb (usually a word ending in "ly") and an adjective does not create a compound adjective. No hyphen is required because it is already clear that the adverb modifies the adjective rather than any subsequent term.
 

Incorrect: The remarkably-hot day turned into a remarkably-long week.

Correct: The remarkably hot day turned into a remarkably long week.

3.  Do not use a hyphen when the compound modifier appears after the noun it modifies.
 

Incorrect: The language, which was gender-neutral, impressed the judge and her law clerks.

Correct: The language, which was gender neutral, impressed the judge and her law clerks.


Also Correct:

The gender-neutral language impressed the judge and her law clerks.

4.  Do not hyphenate proper names or titles. You should not place a hyphen in a compound adjective if the adjectives are capitalized, such as when they are part of a title.
 

Correct: His book was entitled, "Gender Neutral Language in English Usage," and it revolutionized the way people think about sex roles.
However: His book on gender-neutral language revolutionized the way people think about sex roles.
Correct: The students were participants in Chicago-Kent's vaunted Legal Research and Writing Program.
Also Correct:
The student decided to attend a school with a good legal-research-and-writing program. Note that in this example, the reference is to a type of program, rather than a specific program, and so the use of hyphens is proper.

5.  If it is unavoidable, you may use a hyphen to divide a word at the end of a line of text. However, it is better to place the whole word on one line if that approach would not result in leaving a large space. If you need to use a hyphen, be sure to use it after a complete syllable, never in the middle of a syllable. You may want to check a dictionary for the proper syllable breakdown. (Please also note that one should never split a word at the end of a page; if necessary, move the entire word to the top of the next page.)

Undesirable:

Students of all backgrounds often underestimate the time needed to cre-
ate a professional memorandum or brief.


Better:

Students of all backgrounds often underestimate the time needed to
create a professional memorandum or brief.


Undesirable:

The longest word listed in her new dictionary was
antidisestablishmentarianism.


Better:

The longest word listed in her new dictionary was antidisestablish-
mentarianism.

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