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Assuming that these two words

off-topic

on-topic

must be hyphenated, which of the punctuations in the following sentences is correct? (crucial part emphasized)

Regardless of whether it is an off or on-topic example, it is a brilliant consideration in the definition of this proposal.

Regardless of whether it is an off- or on-topic example, it is a brilliant consideration in the definition of this proposal.

I know you can get around this with a verbose constuction like off-topic or on-topic, or by not hyphenating either and treating off and on and topic as separate words, but neither suggestion really does anything to answer my question.

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What Jedd says. Ceterum censeo that no hyphens are required in your example! –  Cerberus May 30 '11 at 0:42

1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The standard way to deal with this in English is your second example, "off- or on-topic". Another example of where the hyphen would be preserved for both forms of the hyphenated word might be pre- and post-, e.g.

The pre- and post-match responses of the soccer fans were markedly different.

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But, pray, why? What is the source of "the standard way"? –  Kris Jun 8 at 9:40

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