HYPHEN CHART

Incomplete, check a dictionary when in doubt, but quite useful, anyway.

Compound Adjective Formed With Rule on Hyphenation Example
all Always hyphenate. all-inclusive study
century Always hyphenate. twentieth-century   technology
cross Some hyphenated, some open, some closed. Check the dictionary. cross-referenced section
cross-country skis
But: crosscut saw
fold Closed unless formed with numbers of 100 or more. tenfold increase
100-fold increase
full Hyphenated before noun, open after noun. full-scale drawings
The drawings are full scale.
half Most hyphenated, some closed. Check the dictionary. half-inch measurement
half-baked plan
halfway house
halfhearted attempt
high, low, upper, lower, middle, mid Most hyphenated before noun, open after noun. high-volume trading
highbrow organization   (check the dictionary!)
middle-class voters
midlife crisis
mid-Atlantic region
Mideast peace process
like Closed unless root word ends in l or ll or has three syllables or more. catlike jumping ability
childlike demeanor
cathedral-like façade
number + odd Always hyphenate compounds formed with numbers (words or numerals) plus the word odd. twenty-odd pages
360-odd days
four-hundred-odd socks   . . .
but, four hundred odd socks
number Always open when used to express a ratio (with the word percent). ten percent increase
100 percent change
Number + Unit of Measure Always hyphenate three-mile limit
two-week vacation
150-yard skid mark
Number + Unit ofMeasure + Adjective Always hyphenate two-year-old daughter
sixty-five-year-old man
two-and-a-half-year-old   child
twenty-five-foot-high wall
But: six year-old girls
Number + Number + Unit of Measure + Adjective Hyphenate the number and then the adjective twenty-four six-inch-long measurements
Number + Unit of Measure + Adjective (coming after noun) Hyphenate the number a man sixty-five years old (note plural years)
No hyphen a wall three meters high
Hyphenate the number twenty-four boys five years old
fractional numbers Hyphenate spelled-out fractions used as adjectives. two-thirds majority
In mixed fractions, the whole number is not joined to the fraction by another hyphen. twenty-one and one-quarter miles
four and one-eighth inches
numbers Hyphenate only the numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine. All others are open. twenty-four bottles of beer on the wall
two hundred rock stars
over, under Closed unless the word the appears in the compound. overexposed film
underrated basketball team
over-the-counter stock   market
under-the-table deal
self Most hyphenated. Closed if prefix un- is added or suffix added to self. self-confident applicant
self-conscious speaker
unselfconscious speaker
selfish act
selfless character trait
wide Always closed unless cumbersome. Cumbersome compounds are hyphenated when they appear before the noun modified and open after the noun modified. statewide referendum
worldwide legal services
university-wide crusade (comes before the noun modified)
The crusade was university wide (after noun modified)

 

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