Chicago Style Workout 17: Hyphens, Part 1

Heavy lifting!

This month’s workout, “Hyphens, Part 1,” centers on CMOS 16, paragraph 7.85, section 1, of our famous hyphenation table, “Compounds according to Category.” We’re calling this workout “part 1” because hyphens are a vast topic, destined to confound us in many ways and certainly worth a series of workouts.

Advanced editors might tackle the questions cold; learners can study paragraph 7.85, section 1, of the Manual before answering the questions.

This one is so tricky that the takers deserve a tip: within each question, the examples are either all correct or all incorrect.

(Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual. For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

[Editor’s update: These styles have not changed in the 17th edition, although their section numbers may have changed.]

Note: Dictionaries and style guides sometimes disagree. These questions are designed to test knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style, which prefers Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition. Other style guides may follow a different dictionary.

Chicago Style Workout 17: Hyphens, Part 1 (CMOS 7.85)

1. Spelled-out numbers twenty-one through ninety-nine are hyphenated; others are open.

three hundred
nineteen forty-five
five hundred fifty
2. Colors are hyphenated before but not after a noun.

emerald-green tie
reddish-brown flagstone
black-and-white print
his tie is emerald green
the stone is reddish brown
the truth isn’t black and white
3. Age terms are hyphenated in both noun and adjective forms except as in the last two examples.

a three-year-old
a five-year-old child
a fifty-five-year-old woman
seven years old
eighteen years of age
4. Compass points and directions are closed in noun, adjective, and adverb forms unless three directions are combined, in which case a hyphen is used after the first.

5. Non-English phrases are open unless hyphens appear in the original language.

an a priori argument
a Sturm und Drang drama
in vitro fertilization
a tête-à-tête approach
[NB: Familiar non-English phrases like these are not italic in Chicago style; here they appear in italics only because they are examples.]
6. Simple fractions are hyphenated in noun, adjective, and adverb forms, except when the second element is already hyphenated.

one twenty-fifth
one and three-quarters
a two-thirds majority
a one twenty-fifth share
7. Compounds formed with fractions leave the noun form open and hyphenate the adjective form.

a half hour
a half-hour session
a quarter mile
a quarter-mile run
an eighth note
8. A number plus abbreviation are always hyphenated.

the 33-m distance
a 2-kg weight
a 3-ft.-high wall
9. A number-plus-noun adjective phrase is hyphenated before the noun but otherwise open.

a hundred-meter race
a 250-page book
it’s three inches high
one and a half inches
10. A number plus a percentage is always hyphenated.

a 10-percent raise


Photo: Deriviative image by Plastikspork; original image by Rob Macklem, Zulfiya Chinshanlo, World Champion 2009, 53kg class, Kazakhstan. Taken at Goyang City 2009 world championships in Olympic Weightlifting.

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