The term "information storage and retrieval system" seems well established, but "information storage" is a compound modifier preceding the nouns yet has no hyphen in almost every instance I can see written online. Is this correct? I know that using hyphens in compound modifiers is often considered an issue of style, but typically I see most style guides recommend that compound modifiers preceding the noun (well-established convention) should be hyphenated, whilst ones after the noun need not necessarily be so (the convention is well established).

Many thanks.

1 Answer 1


It's a storage and retrieval system. Information modifies both storage and retrieval, or, perhaps better, storage system and retrieval system. You say "preceding the nouns" but there's only one noun--system--although the others are, I suppose, technically nouns used as modifiers.

If I had to hyphenate it, I'd write it "information storage-and-retrieval system"; I'm glad that was avoided.

  • 1
    Apologies, yes, my question wasn't worded that well. I'm now thinking of "information" acting as a modifier on "storage and retrieval system" and it makes sense not to hyphenate that purely because it wouldn't look good, if for no other reason. Thank you very much.
    – Ben A
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 8:57

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