0

In the following, can I omit the hyphens in "%-a-year" and "million a year"? I cannot recast. This is nonfiction.

Joe said, "Mike received a 10% a year increase."

Gary said, "The figures reflected a 5% to 7% a year increase in net profits."

Gary said, "The figures reflected a 5–7% a year increase in net profits." (Or, for variation, we can drop the first percent sign and insert a dash as exampled above. Good?)

Frank said, "Brad's grandfather once owned a $200 million to $250 million a year business."

Dana said, "My husband and I have a $500,000 to $700,000 a year joint income, depending on the frequency of our bonuses."

Do all look good – minus the hyphens – in terms of clarity and readability?

Thank you.

3
  • Yes. "a 10% a year increase" --Ok. "a 5% to 7% a year increase" --Ok. "a 5–7% a year increase" --"a 5%–7% a year increase". "a $200 million to $250 million a year" --Ok. "a $500,000 to $700,000 a year" --Ok. The hyphen is not essential, though it could improve readability in other cases.
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 12:38
  • Your third example is a recast of the second. If you can rewrite "a 5% to 7% a year increase" as "a 5–7% a year increase", then certainly you can rewrite it as "an increase of 5 to 7% a year". With the added benefit that the latter would actually be English, rather than making you sound like a Russian spy in the process of blowing his cover.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 12:56
  • I would find hyphens in "% a year" distracting.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 13:31

1 Answer 1

1

Yes.

There is not fully-agreed upon rule about hyphenation here. Some people will always hyphenate, some will never hyphenate and some will hyphenate when the phrase is a modifier and not when it is an object or subject. This variance in practice means that whichever you choose you'd be doing something that isn't strange.

The intention of any of the three styles is the same; that the text be understandable, readable and clear. If you find the style you tend to use is hindering in that pursuit more than helping then by all means abandon it.

(If for some reason you have to stick strictly to a style-guide that says otherwise though, you'll have to discuss that decision with whoever says you have to stick to it).

2
  • Really appreciate everyone's time and input. Do you also think that I could use a dash between the monetary ranges like this? Frank said, "Brad's grandfather once owned a $200 million–$250 million a year business." Dana said, "My husband and I have a $500,000–$700,000 a year joint income, depending on the frequency of our bonuses." And could I forgo the hyphens in these without jeopardizing clarity and readability? ---- a $1 to $2 a day surcharge; a $1–$2 a day surcharge; a $200 million per quarter loss. Very grateful for your feedback and guidance. Deep thanks. Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 15:07
  • I think that use of dashes is clear.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 11:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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