If one wishes to add "non" in front of a hyphenated adjective, should one add a hyphen after "non?"

  • 3
    possible duplicate of How to connect a word and a phrase with a hyphen? Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 22:54
  • 1
    Could you please provide an example? For example "Non wind powered renewable energy" Where would you place the hyphen(s)? (I'm not even sure that makes sense, I just made it up on the spot)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 0:33
  • 1
    Most writers include two hyphens in, say, non-coal-fired [power stations, etc.]. Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, addresses this question indirectly in section 5.117:

The en dash is also used in place of a hyphen in a compound adjective when one of the elements of the adjective is an open compound (such as New York) or when two or more of the elements are hyphenated compounds:

New York–London flight
post–Civil War period
quasi-public–quasi-judicial body
non-English-speaking countries
not-to-be-forgotten moments

Since your usage is of the latter form (a normally hyphenated element in front of a hyphenated compound adjective), the use of multiple hyphens is therefore recommended:

He was the only non-red-haired person in his entire family.


"non" isn't a word, so you can't write this:

non red-haired [noun]

This is less wrong, but I still don't like it:

non-red haired [noun]

We've lost the link between "red" and "haired," so someone might interpret it as "hairy [noun] which is not red."

I like this form:

non-red-haired [noun]

In this case, it's clear we're negating the entire adjective rather than just the color.

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