Rule A.8: Hyphens, En Dashes, and Em Dashes

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TLR follows the rules set forth in CMOS. Below is a summary of those rules and common usage.

A.8(a): Hyphens (-)

  1. How to determine whether a word should be hyphenated:
    • Look up the word in Merriam-Webster to see if the compound is generally
      recognized. If the compound appears in the dictionary as the same part
      of speech
      the LREs have specified in the prompt, use this compound.
    • If the word does not appear in the dictionary, look to Sections 1, 3, & 4 of
      the example table included in Rule 7.89 in CMOS.
      (1) If the compound is of the specific type or contains a specific term
      listed in these sections, follow that rule (e.g., compounds with the
      prefix “non” are usually closed unless preceding another
      compound such as “non-self-sustaining”).
      (2) If the term is still not found, note the general rule for compounding
      parts of speech in Section 2 and proceed to the next step.
    • Look to whether the word is hyphenated, open, or closed in Bluebook
      Publishing Journals (this can be found in the “Guide for Checking
      Bluebook Publishing Journals” on page 42) and make a recommendation
      for how to hyphenate the term.
  2. Compounds should be hyphenated if doing so makes the writing easier to
    understand or reduces ambiguity. For example, hyphenate “small-businessmen”
    to show that the businessmen run small businesses rather than that they are
    physically small.
  3. Note: Whether a compound should be hyphenated or not sometimes depends on
    how the compound is being used—most often whether it is being used as part of
    a phrasal adjective or as a noun. For example, compare “a first-quarter
    touchdown” with “The team scored in the first quarter.”

A.8(b): En Dashes (–)

Although The Bluebook allows for ranges to be indicated using either a hyphen or en dash, TLR uses en dashes for all ranges as suggested by CMOS 6.78. Always conform to CMOS, specifically Rules 6.78–6.84.

A.8(c): Em Dashes (—)

Always conform to CMOS, specifically Rules 6.85–6.92.

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