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Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes
Q. Is it necessary or preferred to hyphenate complex phrasal adjectives like “master-chef-turned-food-writer Anthony Bourdain describes the Tuscan countryside as . . .”? Or does CMS prefer “master chef turned food writer Anthony Bourdain describes the Tuscan countryside as . . .”? I am having a hard time seeing how anyone would misread the phrase without hyphens. Thanks for your help!
A. CMOS is silent on the issue. Although Merriam-Webster (s.v. “turn”) omits the hyphens in the noun (“doctors turned authors”), Chicago style favors hyphenating phrasal adjectives before a noun. If you’re certain the modifier is clear without hyphens, you might leave them out, but rephrasing is the best alternative to excessive hyphenation: “Anthony Bourdain, master chef turned food writer, describes the Tuscan countryside as . . .”