« Numbers Anyone? | Main | Writing In-Text Citations in APA Style »

January 20, 2011

Hyphenation Challenges

Paige-for-web-site 75x75 by Paige Jackson
Following on from last week’s post about APA Style rules that writers find most challenging (according to a recent article by Onwuegbuzie, Combs, Slate, & Frels, 2010), this week we tackle a common hyphenation error: failing to hyphenate a compound with a participle when it precedes the term that it modifies.

This hyphenation rule is in both the fifth and sixth editions of the Publication Manual.  Indeed, it’s a general rule of punctuation, rather than being peculiar to APA Style.  Like most other hyphenation rules, its rationale is that clarifying what modifies what prevents misreading.  For example, a “good looking glass” could describe a high-quality mirror, but a “good-looking glass” is more likely to represent an attractive tumbler.

A related challenge is hinging the hyphenation of a compound with a participle on the placement of that compound within a sentence.  Hyphenation that seems to be inconsistent can be jarring, particularly within a paragraph.  But with the example above, in the phrase “good-looking glass,” the hyphen clarifies the meaning, whereas if we’re describing a “glass that is good looking,” a hyphen would be superfluous.

Are there other hyphenation rules that seem counterintuitive to you?

 

Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Combs, J. P., Slate, J. R., & Frels, R. K. (2010). Editorial: Evidence-based guidelines for avoiding the most common APA errors in journal article submissions. Research in the Schools, 16(2), ix-xxxvi.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a01157041f4e3970b0147e1c8d63c970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Hyphenation Challenges:

Comments

Search the APA Style Blog


ABOUT THE BLOG

My Photo


About Us

Blog Guidelines

APA Style FAQs

Archives


rss Follow us on Twitter

American Psychological Association APA Style Blog

Twitter Updates