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Chapter 12. Help Wanted: Applying Hyphen... > Activity A. Language Arts Recall

Activity A. Language Arts Recall

Hyphen Usage

Rule 12.1:

Use a hyphen to join a compound adjective (one-thought modifier) when it precedes the word it modifies; otherwise, it is not hyphenated.

Example: Job opportunities exist in computer-related fields. (precedes noun it modifies)


Job opportunities exist in fields that are computer related. (does not precede noun it modifies.

The personnel department keeps up-to-date records on all employees.


The personnel department keeps employee records that are up to date.

The supervisor and employee will have a face-to-face meeting to discuss on-the-job training.

Note: If an adverb that ends in “ly” precedes the adjective, do not hyphenate.

The human resources department is a newly formed division of the corporation. (no hyphen because “newly” ends in “ly” and is an adverb)

Rule 12.2:

Use a hyphen after words in a series of hyphenated adjectives that modify the same noun(s). When there are two hyphenated adjectives, space once after the hyphen not linked with the noun. When there are three or more, use commas to separate them.

Examples: The five-and ten-year trends continue to show an increase in service jobs.

We will review our one-, three-, and five-year goals.

Rule 12.3:

Use a hyphen to join the word “self” to a word after it.

Example: Self-esteem improves when an individual gains self-confidence.

Rule 12.4:

Use a hyphen to join the word “well” to another word to form a modifier before a noun; otherwise, no hyphen is used.

Example: A well-written resume will get positive results. A resume that is well written will get positive results.

Rule 12.5:

Use a hyphen in simple fractions.

Example: Of the 100 questionnaires mailed, only one-third replied.

Note: Do not use a hyphen for “one half.”

Rule 12.6:

Use a hyphen to link compound titles containing an “ex” and “elect.”

Example: The acting ex-secretary joined the president-elect for lunch.

Note: Titles containing “vice” are not hyphenated.

Example: vice president

Rule 12.7:

Use a hyphen to link compound titles in which a person or thing has two functions of a dual nature.

Example: The acting secretary-treasurer attended the dinner-dance with the manager-supervisor.

Rule 12.8:

Use a hyphen to join a prefix to a number or to a capitalized word.

Examples: The fall semester begins in mid-September. Marilyn was promoted to general manager in the mid-1990s when she was in her mid-30s.

Number Usage

The following are the most common rules for expressing numbers in business correspondence.

Rule 12.9:

Word Style—Spell out

  • numbers from one through ten

    Fax five copies of the report.

  • numbers beginning a sentence

    Fifty applicants mailed their resumes.

  • millions and billions as part of a dollar amount

    $10 million$1.5 billion

    Note: Never write the word “dollar” after the amount when the dollar symbol ($) is used.

  • fractions which stand alone

    one-third (BUT one half)

  • street addresses beginning with “one” in inside address

    One Park Avenue

  • time of day in formal writing

    eight-thirty o'clock

Rule 12.10:

Figure Style—Write as numbers

  • exact numbers over ten

    Fax 20 copies of the report.

  • all decimals and percents (unless they begin a sentence)

    The salesperson received 10 percent commission on all sales.

    Note: Write out word “percent” in correspondence.

  • time of day when written with a.m. or p.m.

    8 p.m.

  • measurements, dimensions, page numbers, house numbers

    68 degrees3"×6" card
    page 25101 Broadway

  • numbers in compound adjectives

    70-story building,10-page manual
    35-hour workweek3-year budget

  • whole dollar amounts


    Note: Do not add a decimal point and zeros.

  • series of items

    Note: If any number in a sentence is above 10, write all numbers as figures.

    We need to reorder 5 reams of computer paper, 10 disks, and 25 file folders.

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