Wednesday, July 08, 2009

# 74: Punctuation Matters: Are Hyphens Obsolete?

I'm not one to obsess about punctuation when I'm writing a grant, but I make an effort to ensure the text reads clearly. I like to be correct, though, so I pause during my final edit to look up things I'm not sure of, unless that deadline is minutes instead of days away. (Where do the commas belong in that last sentence?) But, I'd swear I never learned anything about hyphens in school.

Marilynne Rudick has a post about hyphens that I find useful. Maybe you will, too.

Writing Matters: Are Hyphens Obsolete?: "So, are hyphens obsolete? Can you use them willy-nilly? Before you jettison the hyphen, consider the hyphen’s most important raison d’ĂȘtre: clarity.

1. Use a hyphen to avoid ambiguity (relay / re-lay; re-sent / resent).
2. Use a hyphen when it clarifies the meaning (little used car / little-used car; twenty odd people / twenty-odd people).
3. Use a hyphen to avoid “letter collision” (shelllike / shell-like).
4. Use a hyphen to indicate that the word is con-
tinued on the next line. (Happily we don’t have to think about this too often since most word processing programs hyphenate automatically.)"
I both learn and enjoy reading Marilynne Rudick's and Leslie O'Flahavan's Writing Matters blog and recommend you take a look.

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1 comment:

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