Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes
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?
A. Parentheses make hyphenation unnecessary except for terms that would be hyphenated in any position. So you would be right to write “big-picture revision” but “global (big picture) revision.” The same principle applies to quotation marks: Our error-prone editor, resorting to his favorite excuse, reminded us that this would be a “big picture” revision only.