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I'm struggling with a hyphenation problem. I'm writing the following sentence:

This happens both in high- and low-tax countries
This happens both in high and low-tax countries
This happens both in high and low tax countries

Would the introduction of the word 'rate' make this any different:

This happens both in high and low tax rate countries

More importantly (and more in line with the spirit of this Stack Exchange), what is the rule that drives this?

  • As an inhabitant of the Low Countries, I do get confused about the version without hyphens. – oerkelens Oct 17 '16 at 15:02
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Rules like this are established by style guides.

In APA, for example:

When two or more compound modifiers have a common base, this base is sometimes omitted in all except the last modifier, but the hyphens are retained.

  • Long- and short-term memory
  • 2-, 3-, and 10-min trials

Following this rule, you would write:

This happens both in high- and low-tax countries.

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