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  1. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Journalism Question -- Monetary Ranges

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by dillseed, Apr 10, 2014.

    Does any ambiguity, in your opinion, result from the punctuation in the following monetary ranges? I cannot recast.

    Joe said, "My grandfather once owned and operated a $60-70 million a year business empire."

    Mike said, "The figures represented a $100-150,000 a year increase in revenues."

    Thank you.
     
  2. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Or is this better? I cannot find guidance anywhere that addresses these with any specificity. All I'm told to do is recast. Surely, there has to be an answer to these.

    Joe said, "My grandfather once owned and operated a $60-to-70-million-a-year business empire." (Or should I repeat "million," as in "a $60-million-to-70-million-a-year business empire"?) I think that using suspended hyphenation is jarring to the reader (e.g., "a $60-million- to 70-million-a-year business empire").

    Mike said, "The figures represented a $100,000-to-150,000-a-year increase in revenues."
    (Same jarring effect with suspended hyphenation in this: "a $100,000- to 150,000-a-year increase in revenues.")

    Horatio said, "The monetary gains reflected a 10-to-20-percent-a-year increase in sales."
     
  3. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Would anybody concur that forgoing those distracting hyphens would be the way to go? It's less cluttered and cleaner. I know there are better ways to write these, but I can't, because they're direct quotes. See below.
    (BTW, The AP Stylebook doesn't address this.)

    • Joe said, "My grandfather once owned and operated a $60 million to 70 million a year business empire."
    • Mike said, "The figures represented a $100,000 to 150,000 a year increase in revenues."
    • Horatio said, "The monetary gains reflected a 10 to 20 percent a year increase in sales."
     
  4. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    • Joe said, "My grandfather once owned and operated a $70 million a year business empire."
    • Mike said, "The figures represented a $127,000 a year increase in revenues."
    • Horatio said, "The monetary gains reflected a nearly 20 percent a year increase in sales."
     
  5. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    The Chicago Manual of Style just replied to my query!

    Chicago Staff Replied ... Thought I'd Share

    Good morning, Chicago Staff.

    These are direct quotes that cannot be altered. Is my choice of hyphens correct throughout?

    He said, "The figures represented a $10-to-$20,000-a-year increase in revenues."
    (Or do I need to write "$10,000-to-$20,000-a-year increase in revenues"?)

    She said, "My grandfather once owned an operated a $40-to-$45-million-a-year business."
    (Or should it be, "a $40-million-to-$45-million-a-year business"?)

    He said, "The statistics showed that the business experienced a 10-to-20-percent-a-year loss in sales."
    Are my use of hyphens correct in all instances?

    Thank you, Chicago Staff!

    ****************************
    From: chicagomanual@press.uchicago.edu
    Subject: RE: [ucp-cmos] Hyphenated Elements within Quotes
    Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:22:13 -0500

    Your hyphens are fine. In each case both forms are fine. However, if the context would allow anyone to think that $10 means ten dollars, you are better off spelling it out as $10,000. Note too that anytime you have more than two hyphens in an expression it begins to look ugly and is worth rewriting:

    The figures represented an annual increase in revenues of $10,000 to $20,000.

    All the best,

    Staff
     
  6. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    It's all subjective, methinks.

    The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage gives the following examples:

    $2.5 million investment

    a $10-to-11-billion increase
    (Note that there's no dollar sign before the number 11.)

    a $2-million-a-year job
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    whichever way you choose to do it, just be consistent... if it doesn't fit the house style of a venue you submit to, they'll just change it, so it's no biggie...
     
  8. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Yup, I hear ya. The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition, uses this example:

    a $10 million- to $15 million-a-year industry.

    (They repeat the word million, and use suspended hyphenation.)

    So, like everything, a lot of opinions are involved as to proper style.
     
  9. davidm
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    davidm Active Member

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    Where are you getting this? Because I am (almost!) certain it is wrong, subject to the proviso that the Times recently revised its stylebook. Since I am a New York Times editor, I should know this automatically, but I'm only almost sure that I do. :oops: The correct NY Times style is: $2.5-million investment ($2.5 million here is a compound modifier and requires the hyphen.) A $10-billion-to-$11-billion increase. The rationale is that while it's a wildly implausible possibility, it is nevertheless possible that the increase was somewhere between ten dollars and eleven billion dollars. And the sentence as you write it states exactly that. So to avoid any possibility of confusion, one must use $10 billion and not $10 in the compound modifier (along with hyphens). Finally, the Times would counsel to avoid the awkward compound modifiers altogether, and write: "Revenue was forecast to increase from $10 billion to $11 billion next year." Hope this helps. :)
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is in dialogue. What does Joe actually say? Speak the line aloud, like an actor playing Joe would have to, and write down what he says in words.

    Joe: My grandfather once owned and operated a sixty to seventy million dollar a year business empire.

    Joe: My grandfather once owned and operated a sixty million to seventy million dollar a year business empire.

    Joe: My grandfather once owned and operated a sixty to seventy million a year business empire.

    etc.

    Which is it?
     
  11. davidm
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    davidm Active Member

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    If this is dialogue in a fictional story, I would suggest it's a bit flat. Try instead, "My grandfather once owned a business empire that raked in tens of millions of dollars a year! How much money do you make? … That's what I thought! Fuck you, and don't dis my gramps again."

    See how much better that is? :D
     
  12. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Awesome.

    Thank you.

    :)
     
  13. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    That rocks.

    Thank y’all.
     
  14. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Please confirm. So for quoted written dialogue, we should forgo hyphenation—especially for compound-modifying phrasal adjectives—unless of course we're dealing with the numbers 21–99 (which inherently require hyphenation).

    For instance, we omit hyphens in dialogue (not narratives) when we have something akin to the following:

    Mike said, "The four year old was misbehaving."

    In a narrative we would write:

    The four-year-old was misbehaving. (With hyphens.)

    Correct?

    Thanks.

    Sent from my iPhone 4S
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think the issue is hyphenation. I'd write: Mike said, "The four-year-old was misbehaving."

    The issue I wanted to emphasize is, how do you say "$60-70 million"? Look at the three examples I gave above. They're all different (and the issue, once again, isn't the hyphenation). Which would Joe say, verbally? I think it's important, in dialogue, to write it the way the character would say it.
     
  16. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Thank you.

    I'm down with that.

    Cool.
     
  17. davidm
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    davidm Active Member

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    I think you are obsessing way too much over this stuff, unless you are writing journalism or an essay or some such other pedant-filled crap. If you're writing fiction, do what you want. Read James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, Cormac McCarthy, Roberto Bolaño and others who famously had sentences that ran on for pages without correct punctuation or even without punctuation at all. If your concern is fiction writing, then forget about proper grammar, especially idiocies like compound modifiers and hyphens. o_O
     
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Thank you.
     
  19. dillseed
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    dillseed Active Member

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    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014

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