Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes
Q. When referring to a telephone call for which the calling party is not charged, is it (a) a “toll free call,” (b) a “tollfree call,” or (c) a “toll-free call.” My own preference is for c first, then b. However, our marketing bunch uses a. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. This is driving me nuts (or at least nuttier than usual).
Q. What is the difference in usage between an em dash and an en dash?
Q. I am an American translator working in Germany and I am having difficulty determining whether the following formulation is correct according to Chicago style:
developing short-, medium-, and long-term steps for . . .
This looks so Germanized to my eyes, but perhaps I have simply been here too long. Thank you!
Q. In “University of California Berkeley,” for example, which mark would you place before “Berkeley”: hyphen, en dash, or comma? (I couldn’t find this in your manual.) My preference would be either the en dash or the comma, but never the hyphen. What say you?
Q. I’m wondering about the proper uses of the prefix auto-. When one cannot find the word using this prefix in the dictionary, is there a standard for how to use it? To hyphenate or not to hyphenate, that is the question. My specific example is autosequence, auto-sequence, or auto sequence. Which would Chicago recommend?
Q. Some authors in the company for which I copyedit have been using an en dash, rather than a hyphen, for the negative sign in negative numbers, i.e., –3 versus -3. Some of our required fonts exaggerate the difference, and occasionally this results in negative signs of varying size in our technical documentation. I would prefer that all authors use the hyphen to create a more consistent look. As CMOS is this company’s style reference guide, I have searched through it for a recommendation regarding this topic but have not found one. Does CMOS have a preference?
Q. Can you offer any guidance as to how best to render people’s height? I’ve seen “five feet, two inches” (tall), “five-feet-two-inches” “five-feet-two,” “five-foot-two” (yikes!), “five-two,” all of the preceding with the hyphens placed otherwise or omitted, and, of course, good old 5' 2''. I’ve searched “Chicago” but haven’t found the answer. Help!
Q. Dear Chicago, I’m in a debate with my 73-year-old publisher. I lost my AP Style book in a recent move and I can’t remember the rule for putting hyphens in a person’s age. My publisher says it is only used when the age is a modifier. I say it needs to be used when it is a noun as well, such as: “The healthy 18-year-old jumped in his car . . .” He claims it is only used in a sentence similar to this: “An 8-year-old boy.” Please let me know which is correct so I can end this debate and put this magazine to bed! Thank you, Missouri.
Q. Now here’s one phrase I’ve always found difficult to hyphenate. “Foreign policy making elite,” referring to an elite making foreign policy. Would Chicago write “foreign policymaking elite”?
Q. I have a hyphenation question that I wasn’t able to resolve after reading CMOS or the Q&A page on your website. I am in a debate with a fellow attorney about the proper hyphenation for the phrase “explicitly-defined” when used in the context of “an explicitly-defined rule governing adoptions.” My colleague insists there should be no hyphen between “explicitly” and “defined.” I think that there should be a hyphen between the two words.