English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How should wireless technology names be hyphenated and capitalized?

  • "a wireless g network"?
  • "a wireless-g network"?
  • "a wireless-G network"?
  • "a wireless G network"?
  • none of the above?

Does a formal rule even exist for this?

share|improve this question
Good lord. I can remember when "wireless" meant the large wooden box on the mantelpiece that relayed music, and the news from time to time. – Brian Hooper Mar 8 '11 at 20:59
up vote 6 down vote accepted

There's no "formal rule" for how to refer to any sort of technology other than to defer to however it was named by its creators. The standard you're referring to is officially known as 802.11g and is defined by the IEEE. Doing a search across their site, it appears that they use multiple variations, however:

  • The G is almost always capitalized
  • The hyphen is normally included
  • The W is usually capitalized

So in general, I would recommend

a Wireless-G network.

Edit: Here's a link showing IEEE using the Wireless-G format (see near the bottom of the article for an example that's not in the title)

share|improve this answer
Exactly: There aren't many people who say they're going to hook up their video camera with an IEEE 1392 cable. They say they're going to hook it up with a Firewire cable. Likewise, even on the packaging for a wireless router that follows the specifications laid out by IEEE 802.11g you're going to have a hard time finding anything other than the exact words "Wireless-G router." In most cases I would say it doesn't include the name of the specification anywhere on the box. Therefore, as far as the consumer is concerned, it's a "Wireless-G router." (like a brand name) – advs89 Mar 8 '11 at 20:32

What matters is that some of these terms are trademarked, and so, must be written in the way the trademark holders require.

Some examples:

share|improve this answer
That doesn't really address the question, though. "Wireless-G" is not trademarked (as far as I know) although it is often treated like a brand. (in the same way as in your examples) – advs89 Mar 9 '11 at 6:39
@advs89 - the question was "How should wireless technology names be hyphenated and capitalized?" where Wireless-G was simply being used as the example—or at least that's how I read it. – Dori Mar 9 '11 at 7:00
This is not, in fact, what I was looking for, but +1. – Pops Mar 9 '11 at 19:25

What you call a “g network” is a shortcut for an “802.11g network”. “Wireless” should not be capitalized, because it's a standard adjective in English, so the normal name would be:

wireless 802.11g network

or simply

IEEE 802.11g network

because “wireless” is implied by the IEEE 802.11 standards. Now, if you want to drop the 802.11 from the name, logic would dictate to keep the g lowercase (and there's still no reason to hyphenate):

wireless g network

Of course, if you feel this is not very readable, you can favour readability over logic, and go for:

wireless G network

because the G stands out more if capitalised. I see no reason to add hyphens to that, however.

Regarding my personal preferences, I would not omit the 802.11 in writing, so I'd keep “wireless 802.11g network”. Orally, I would drop the 802.11, but then capitalisation is not a question anymore!

share|improve this answer
What's missing is that the manufacturers have started referring to IEEE 802.11g as "Wireless-G" like a brand name - I suspect this is why the questioner is asking about "wireless g networks" :) – psmears Mar 8 '11 at 19:54
-1: I disagree. "Wireless-G" is treated more like a brand these days. Firewire is officially IEEE 1392 but we don't call it that - we call it Firewire. – advs89 Mar 8 '11 at 20:26
@psmears, since you mention it, I was editing this question and didn't know whether to change the last sentence, or what to change it to. – Pops Mar 8 '11 at 21:33

protected by Community Mar 23 '15 at 23:28

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.