Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes
Q. Obviously, two adjectives separated by “and” need not be hyphenated, as in “Brackett Omensetter was a wide and happy man.” But how about suspended compound nouns, for example, “city- and state government” or a musician’s “recording- and practice space”? Need the first modifier have a suspended hyphen? I vote hyphen, myself, but I’ve been called to account and could find neither backup nor smackdown in the Chicago Manual.
A. Okay, here’s the smackdown from CMOS: You’re overdoing it. No hyphens. Even if you were to use phrases like those to modify yet another noun, you might well get away without hyphens. You simply have to consider whether the meaning of each phrase would be clear without them: city and state government contracts; recording- and practice-space expenses.