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Spelling. Hyphens

Interuniversity Style Guide

    The content of these guidelines is taken from the Vives University Network’s Interuniversity Style Guide for Writing Institutional Texts, an interuniversity project in which the UPC participated with the support of the Secretariat for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia.


    Hyphens in fractions

    • Unless they belong to a figure (), always write fractions in full form and with a hyphen.

      The report shows that one-third of all undergraduates use campus parking facilities.


    Hyphens with prefixes

    • Many words beginning with a prefix are written with a hyphen (co-payment); many are not (overproduction).
    • Confusingly, there are also cases where both forms are considered acceptable (British: pre-school / American: preschool). As can be seen from this last example, the tendency in American English is to hyphenate less than in British English.
    • In all events, if in doubt about whether a prefix should be followed by a hyphen, consult a reliable dictionary.
    • However, the following observations generally hold.
    • Words beginning with a common prefix (such as un-, dis- or re-) are often written without a hyphen

      Current numbers of absences from class in many subjects are unacceptably high.
      Student representatives have disregarded criticism from the Rector, calling it uninformed and unfair.
      This initiative reaffirms the strong ties between the two universities.

    • In contrast, a hyphen is generally used with prefixes such as neo- and ex-.

      The Arts Faculty building is an outstanding example of neo-classical architecture.
      Dr Rovira is the ex-director of the Cancer Research Institute.
    • Hyphenate all words formed by a prefix + word beginning with a capital letter.

      This movement is a pan-European response to failures in education.
      The research confirms a growing anti-British sentiment in commercial relations.
    • Note that transatlantic is normally written as a single word.


    Hyphens in compound adjectives

    • Hyphenate qualifiers formed with two or more adjectives, with an adverb and an adjective or with an adjective and a noun/gerund.

      a little-discussed problem
      a low-prevalence phenomenon
      a well-meaning intervention

    • However, do not hyphenate compound adjectival forms in which the first element is an adverb ending in either -ly or in -y.

      a compellingly argued paper
      a highly detailed research proposal
      a very engaging argument

    • Additionally, do not hyphenate compound adjectival forms in which the first element is a comparative or superlative.

      the most cited research paper
      a less complicated suggestion


    Hyphens and phrasal verbs: nouns formed from phrasal verbs

    • Nouns formed from phrasal verbs are often written as a single word and may or may not be hyphenated. If in doubt, consult a dictionary.

      The dropout rate for this course is unusually high.
      Funding problems have meant that these projects have been put on standby.
      A major follow-up to this study has already been planned.
      Last year's buy-in allowed the faculty to open three new laboratories.


    Hyphens and phrasal verbs: the adjectival present participle of phrasal verbs

    • When the present participle of a phrasal verb is used adjectivally, hyphenate.

      Students participating in this initiative were given additional information during the signing-on phase.


    Hyphens and double consonants or vowels

    • Hyphenation should generally be used in order to avoid double consonants or vowels.

      Part-time teaching staff plays an increasingly important role in the MA programme.
      Students who do not comply with the regulations may lose the right to re-examination.

    • Note, however, that certain high-frequency terms are no longer hyphenated (unless they are part of an established name).

      Cooperation among participating universities is gradually increasing.
      Macroeconomic factors have led to considerable modifications in research funding.

      The report shows that one-third of all undergraduates use campus parking facilities.


    Hyphens and multiple compounds

    • When a noun is qualified by more than one hyphenated compound, write these as follows.

      In a pioneering study, the Department of Psychology is currently researching the pre- and post-natal effects of carbon monoxide.