Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes
Q. In my office we have noticed a trend in Merriam-Webster to show previously closed compound words as hyphenated, such as “antiracist” and “antilabor.” CMOS clearly has a spare hyphenation style and lists prefixes as usually closed. Which should we follow when the two sources disagree? I would lean toward continuing to close compounds like “antiracist” and “antilabor” and use CMOS as our source, but we have been going in circles for a year now on this debate. Please help.
Q. CMOS 6.81 says en dashes can be used to set off campuses of universities, as in “University of Wisconsin–Madison.” When abbreviating the university such that it’s one word, would it make sense to change the en dash to a hyphen? For example, would you write “UW-Madison” with a hyphen because “UW” is now one word?
Q. Books that can be read aloud are known as “read-alouds.” Should this term be hyphenated or not?
Q. I am curious why CMOS hyphenates “president-elect” but leaves “vice president elect” open. Would “vice president–elect” (with an en dash) not be more consistent? And why is “president-elect” hyphenated even when the term doesn’t precede a noun?
Q. I know an em dash marks an interruption in dialogue:
“I thought I might—”
“Might what?” she demanded.
But what happens if the same person speaks after the interruption? For example, “Can you bring me a— socket wrench, is that what you call it?” Is that space after the em dash correct?
Q. Should “time travel” be hyphenated as a verb? CMOS 5.25 says it’s okay to use nouns as verbs, but there are no two-word examples. “Time travel” isn’t even in M-W!
Q. CMOS does not mention uses of the en dash for conflict or connection, as in “the liberal–conservative debate” or “the Radical–Unionist coalition.” Should it be inferred that CMOS opposes such uses?
Q. Hi! Your guidelines for hyphenating a compound modifier before a noun cite clarity as a primary reason for doing so. But what if the compound modifier is enclosed in parentheses, such as in the phrase “global (big picture) revision”? Obviously I would hyphenate “big picture” before a noun if that modifier wasn’t enclosed in parentheses, but in this example clarity is not an issue. What say y’all?
Q. I know that you use “to” and not an en dash with “from”: “from 2012 to 2016 (not from 2012–16).” But what about with “for”? Should it be “for 25 to 30 minutes” or “for 25–30 minutes”?
Q. I understood that compounds formed with prefixes are normally closed. However, I see a hyphen used on television and in print with all sorts of prefixes—for example, “co-founder” or “non-violent.” Are compounds formed with prefixes still normally closed? Or has spellcheck run amok?