I'm curious about the correct punctuation for this phrase which appears in some stack exchange badges...

"non-community wiki answers"

I initially thought it was referring to wiki answers that were somehow non-community. This confused me. It turns out it is referring to answers that aren't community wiki answers.

Am I correct that it should be punctuated "non-community-wiki answers"?

related: https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/309426/non-community-wiki-answers-and-grammar


1 Answer 1


You're almost right. When joining the negative modifier ("non") to a two-word term, you need to keep the two-word term connected by a hyphen, but use an en dash to connect the "non"

  • non–community-wiki answer
  • Thanks - is there a more general rule, or is this specific for "non"?
    – Joel
    Nov 4, 2015 at 20:41
  • 5
    I think the preferred treatment here is style-guide specific. For example, if you follow The Chicago Manual of Style, the normal way to handle noncommunity as a simple adjective is closed up, no hyphen. So simply by inserting a hyphen between the prefix and the stem and another hyphen between the resulting word and wiki ("non-community-wiki") indicates that the prefix non- applies to the entire compound modifier and not just to community. In that case, replacing the first hyphen with an en dash is unnecessary. However, under different style guidelines, the en dash may be appropriate.
    – Sven Yargs
    Nov 5, 2015 at 18:03
  • 2
    ... Chicago deems the en dash essential in prefixes associated with open compound modifiers, as for example in "pre–Civil War writing."
    – Sven Yargs
    Nov 5, 2015 at 18:12

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.