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Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes
Q. I’m editing a report about the EPA’s “Climate Ready Estuaries” program. Unfortunately, the program’s formal name has no hyphen, but there are several instances of “climate ready” as a phrasal adjective throughout the paper. I obviously can’t insert a hyphen into the program name, and I’m naturally averse to leaving “climate ready” unhyphenated. But this creates at least the appearance of inconsistency. What’s a diligent hyphenator to do?
A. The hyphenator needs to chill. Proper names and titles are allowed to diverge from style, and there’s no shame in that. If the text is consistent within itself, you’ve done your job. If the apparent inconsistency really bothers you, the obvious remedy is to break style and leave the phrase unhyphenated everywhere.