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I wrote this:

Write a 200-word essay.

However, I need to indicate that it should be at least 200-words. For brevity, I'd like to place "+". I've tried these:

  • 200+-word
  • +200-word
  • 200-word+

Which way is correct in formal or technical writing?

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Write an essay of 200 (+) words. (The greater-than-or-equal-to sign is also available.) However, it is arguable that 'formal writing' demands the exceedingly laborious Write an essay of 200 words or more. Some might even demand that you spell out 'two hundred'. At least it's not you writing the essay. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 5 '14 at 8:57
Write a 200-word, or longer, essay. – Andrew Leach Feb 5 '14 at 9:00
I think I would say, 'Write an essay of at least 200 words'! – WS2 Feb 5 '14 at 9:01
I agree with @EdwinAshworth. Furthermore, all of your choices are confusing and could be mistaken for a typing mistake. Clarity is always better than brevity if brevity cannot fix the problem; hence, I would write, "Write an essay of at least 200 words." EDIT: WS2 beat me to it by a few seconds! – Paddy Landau Feb 5 '14 at 9:01
Conforming to the format of the question, the answer would be, 200+ word; no hyphen is needed even though it is an adjectival phrase. – Kris Feb 5 '14 at 12:13

The comments are spot on in that in formal or technical writing you would spell it out, as "of at least 200 words" or "of 200 words or more", or what have you.

But to still answer the question for not-so-formal writing: out of the three options you are considering, only "200+-word" is an option, and something that I see people use, too. The other two are clearly nonsensical, to the extent that I can't recall ever encountering them at all, not even in the wilderness of the Internet.

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I could see "200+-word" being confusing, since "+-" looks very similar to "+/-" to mean "give or take" or "about". If the writing is less formal, I would still recommend 200+ word essay. Yes, the hyphen is lacking, but I don't think it creates any ambiguity or confusion. – Foo Barrigno Feb 5 '14 at 12:18
I don't see much wrong with 200-word+ As I would say: 200 words or more before I would say 200 or more words. – Cruncher Feb 5 '14 at 13:54

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