Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes

Q. I’m taking a popular online copyediting course. One of my answers to a quiz was marked wrong because I failed to identify “early-warning system” as an instance of incorrect hyphen usage. According to the answer key, this is incorrect because adverbs ending in -ly should not be followed with hyphens. I think early is used as an adjective in this example and should therefore take a hyphen.

Q. Does hyphenation render a diaeresis redundant? Because it wrapped to another line, the word naïveté was rendered as na-ïveté. Should this appear in print as na-iveté?

Q. Do I treat “as and when required” with a suspended hyphen when adjectival? E.g.: “an as- and when-required basis.” Or join up: “an as-and-when-required basis.” Unfortunately, we’re stuck with transcribing substantially verbatim legislative debates.

Q. This is going to throw some people, but here goes: I’m almost fifty, British school system education. We were taught that when an already hyphenated word appears at the end of a line, the hyphen should carry over into the new line:

After they were away for so long, their house

-warming party was a wonderful surprise.

Since the project I’m working on is British grammar, and yet I deal only with US people, this is a new one on them. Any input?

Q. I have a question about the use of a hyphen in a compound modifier after a noun if a form of the verb “to be” is used. For example, “He is a well-known man” is hyphenated because the compound modifier comes before the noun. What about “The man is well known”? I’ve looked at various sources and they seem to contradict one another.

Q. I have a coworker—in a different department, I’m relieved to say—who insists that superlatives and comparatives should be hyphenated (for example, “That is the most-ridiculous rule in the history of the written word”). This particular coworker is, alas, in a position of considerable authority, and has cajoled (and, where necessary, bullied) others into following her overly hyphenated copyediting style. I have looked in vain for some sort of authoritative explanation regarding superlatives and comparatives, to no avail. I sincerely hope you will come to my rescue.

Q. The clarification on compound color hyphenation in the 16th edition is greatly appreciated, but my coeditors and I still disagree on a problem common in fiction: do general modifiers such as “dark,” “light,” or “bright” count as compounds when used with a color (“dark-blue tie,” akin to “midnight-blue tie”) or as a set of distinct adjectives following Chicago’s preference for minimal hyphenation (“dark blue tie,” akin to “old blue tie”)?

Q. Is co-worker hyphenated? The dictionary that I have does not list coworker—it only lists the word in relation to the prefix co- and shows co-worker in a list with other words. I looked in the hyphenation section of the manual that shows examples, and I don’t see examples for a prefix (like co-) and a noun.

Q. Consider the following sentence: “I am bored by exhibitions of folk-, line-, and square dancing.” Are the hyphens correct even though the compounds contain no hyphens? Similarly, “He was a poor student in both middle- and high school.” I believe the hyphen is needed here, but will defer to your opinion.

Q. A coeditor and I have a difference of opinion with regard to the following as it relates to “spare use” of hyphens. I maintain that hyphens are necessary because both words together modify the noun that follows. My coeditor thinks they aren’t needed. Can you settle the debate? Here are some examples: “IBM-based software” or “IBM based software” “End-user documentation” or “end user documentation”