I see sometimes in conjunciton or disjunction, the common root of two or more compound words are factored out, for example, "super- and sub-script" (maybe bad example, but it suffices to describe the situation). Is this good style? To me, I would prefer "super-script and "sub-script".

  • 2
    "Good style" is an awfully subjective thing. It's grammatical; if you don't like it, don't do it. – user13141 Apr 16 '13 at 8:02
  • Each has its merits. "super- and sub-script" essentially talks about the prefix, while "super-script and "sub-script" (better "superscript and subscript") discusses the terms as such. E.g.: "Codes for super- and sub-script are confusing to me" (which is super? which is sub?) vs. "The codes for superscript and subscript are distinct. – Kris Apr 16 '13 at 8:03
  • WritersSE could be a good place to ask about writing style. – Kris Apr 16 '13 at 8:03
  • @Kris: It's interesting that it really seems to make sense (but see Bill's offering) to hyphenate in the first case. There are very few examples of the hyphenated variants showing up in a Google search, and those are mainly for the contrastive super- and sub-script, as here. Another flexi-rule to put in the 100 000-page grammar. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 16 '13 at 9:06

"Superscript" and "subscript" are one word each without a hyphen in British and American English, so I'd advise against using the hyphen for them. And because they're both short words, there's almost nothing (4 characters) gained by splitting them. For longer compound words, using the hyphenated prefix for, say, "pre- and postrevolutionary" focuses on the time before & after the revolution and makes that focus easier to understand, because they're both long words. "Good style" is case-by-case.

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