I am not that punctuation-savy, so I have one question for my research title.

Currently it is

Social crowdfunding: individual- and project-related determinants of success. Empirical investigation on Kickstarter

Here I have two questions.

  1. Is it right to say individual- or just individual?
  2. Should there be a period after "Empirical investigation on Kickstarter"?

2 Answers 2


Both questions have quite an easy answer: it depends on the style guide you have to adhere to for your research (it’s unclear whether it’s an article, a thesis, for a book, or something entirely different).


Individual(-) and project-related

Your first question is about what is known as a suspension hyphen (or sometimes a suspended hyphen), which indicates that the word it ends is the left base of a compound whose right base has been omitted, usually to avoid repetition. (Note: it’s a hyphen, not a dash.)

Suspension hyphens are very commonly used and not often left out in formal writing, and I would guess that most style guides would advise you to use them when appropriate—especially since leaving them out can make the sentence ambiguous: are we talking about both project-related and individual determinants, or about determinants related to both projects and individual?

The Chicago Manual of Style (5.91.4) says:

If two phrasal adjectives end in a common element, the ending element should appear only with the second phrase, and a suspension hyphen should follow the unattached words to show that they are related to the ending element: middle- and upper-class operagoers. But if two phrasal adjectives begin with a common element, a hyphen is usually inappropriate, and the element should be repeated: left-handed and left-brained executives.

– but you should of course follow the advice of whatever style guide you have to adhere to.


To dot or not to dot

Your second question is really more one of layout and (graphic) styling. If your title will appear on a front page in fancy lettering, the dot can be included or omitted based purely on aesthetic grounds.

If it is going to be a ‘regular’ heading (for example the heading of an article in a journal), you should look at other similar articles in the journal to see what the accepted practice is. I doubt many style guides include this in their scope, and it is usually left up to the individual journal/series/monograpy/anthology editor(s) how they wish to deal with it.

  • 1
    Thank you for citing a recommendation of CMoS I actually like. Oct 5, 2013 at 18:29
  • Incidentally, OP's particular case is one of semantics, not style.
    – Kris
    Oct 9, 2013 at 15:04

individual and project related determinants


individual and project-related determinants --> better

Do not use a hyphen with 'individual': that would mean "individual-related" & "project-related". There are no consecutive compounds in the example.

The use of hyphen in "project related" is optional because the phrase is well-recognized and will cause no problems without a hyphen.

You can use an n-dash and an indefinite article. It's still an expression, not a sentence, so no period.

Social crowdfunding: individual- and project-related determinants of success – An empirical investigation on Kickstarter

  • 1
    If your hypothesis that there are no consecutive compounds in the example is correct, then you would of course be right. I would not be so fast to rule that out, though—I don’t see why determinants to social crowdfunding success could not be individual-related as well as project-related without reading the thesis in question. Oct 9, 2013 at 15:22
  • I think that it might be hard to say whether it would be "individual-related" or just "individual" determinants. If the former, then the hyphen is called for, but if the latter it is not. I am not sure what it even means to be individual-related, but project-related doesn't seem to suffer from this. Oct 9, 2013 at 16:02
  • @Cyberherbalist, since this thesis is about Kickstarter, it makes perfect sense to me to speak of success determinants as being either project-related (i.e., specific to the project that obtains success) or individual-related (i.e., based on the individual who created the project, more than the project itself). Some Kickstarters kind of become synonymous with success, so when they start a new project, it almost automatically does well, regardless of what it is; that would be an individual-related determinant of success. Oct 10, 2013 at 0:14
  • @JanusBahsJacquet In any case, my answer has the answers to both the possibilities: that would mean "individual-related" & "project-related". I was aware my reading of the sentence and presumption of the context may not be right, but the answers are there, right?
    – Kris
    Oct 10, 2013 at 7:11

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