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  1. kaleidoscopeyes
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    kaleidoscopeyes New Member

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    Punctuation Question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by kaleidoscopeyes, Aug 2, 2014.

    Hello,

    I have a question regarding the use of en dashes and hyphens within the same phrase. Sorry for the slew of examples, but I was wondering whether they were punctuated correctly. The en-dash means "to", and the hyphens are used in the compound modifiers. Without an option to rewrite I was wondering if these could pass punctuation-wise.

    a group of 40–45-year-old men
    a group of 40–45-year-olds
    a 10–14-inch piece of pipe
    a 20–30-degree temperature difference
    a $50–$60-million-a-year contract
    a $40,000–$50,000-a-year joint income
    a 10–15-mile hike
    a 10–20-pound weight loss
    14–16-, 17–19-, and 20–22-year olds
    a 10–20%-a-year increase in profits
    a 10–20-percent-a-year increase in profits
    70–90-cent-a-week raises

    Obliged,
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  2. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Not 100% sure but I would probably write them as:

    a group of 40 – 45 year old men
    a group of 40 – 45 year olds
    a 10 – 14 inch piece of pipe
    a 20 – 30 degree temperature difference
    a $50 – $60 million-a-year contract
    a $40,000 – $50,000 a year joint income
    a 10 – 15 mile hike
    a 10 – 20 pound weight loss
    14 – 16, 17 – 19 and 20 – 22 year olds
    a 10 – 20% a year increase in profits (or, a 10 - 20% increase in profits per year)
    a 10 – 20 percent a year increase in profits
    70 – 90 cent a week raises (or, 70 - 90 cent per week rise)

    You will find loads more info here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash on hyphens, em dashes and en dashes.

    Yeah, I didn't know there was an en one and an em one too!

    x
     
  3. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    @kaleidoscopeyes, I think using en dashes to signify a range of numbers would be fine in nonfiction, as chart labels or on a list. But in fiction you'd want to spell it out, including the numbers. "The men milling outside the factory gates were forty to forty-five years old." Like that.

    If the situation calls for the dashes, I believe how you originally had it, without the spaces, is correct. They are, as you have it, en dashes between the numbers, which are a fuzz longer than hyphens (my keyboard doesn't even have one). An em (double) dash replaces a comma (see here).

    Whether you put the hyphen between the second number and its label seems to be a matter of style. Traditionally it's been called for when the hyphenated phrase acts as an adjective, but lately writers have dispensed with it.

    To be safe, here's what The Chicago Manual of Style site says: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/HyphensEnDashesEmDashes/faq0002.html.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  4. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, hey, for getting your en-dash, check this out: http://www.dashhyphen.com/dash-keyboard/.

    Let's see if it works. "A group of 40–45-year-old men." No, wait— there they are!

    :agreed:
     
  5. kaleidoscopeyes
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    kaleidoscopeyes New Member

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    Thank you, everybody. I'm very sorry—I meant nonfiction for those examples. I see that in nonfiction books at Google Books my examples—without spaces—are frequently used.

    E.g.: a 10–20-pound weight gain
    a 6–12-inch pipe

    etc., etc.

    I was curious whether this trend—in nonfiction—is becoming the norm.
     
  6. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    Honestly, I am not familiar with that trend in nonfiction, but the way you have used the en dash in your examples is correct. Typically, there would be a "thin space" on either end of the en and its numeral, but not everyone has that option in their processing software. It's the em dash (a completely different animal) that does not have spaces on either side. You were right to use the en in these instances though.
     

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