I want to write "conditional (mean imputation)" and "unconditional (mean imputation)" shorter, which of these 4 is the best way to do that? If multiple ways are correct, which is the most common (in American English)?

  1. (un)conditional or
  2. (un-)conditional or
  3. (un) conditional or
  4. (un-) conditional

Which way of writing is correct; and

Edit: for clarification: In statistics there exists "conditional mean imputation" and "unconditional mean imputation" (see e.g. p. 225 in "Linear Mixed Models for Longitudinal Data" by Verbeke and Molenberghs: which I want to shorten to "(un)conditional mean imputation".

One example sentence is

There are many diverse imputation methods: in (un)conditional mean imputation, missing values are replaced by the (un)conditional mean. In regression based imputation, missing values... In hot deck imputation...".

Writing only "mean imputation" is not an option, as I want to make clear that there are two distinct mean imputation methods.

  • I don't understand what you're looking for. Can you give an example of when you would use this? If I saw any of these choices, I would have no idea what you intended me to understand by it. – Green Grasso Holm Apr 3 '18 at 14:09
  • @GreenGrassoHolm I added an example to the question. – Qaswed Apr 3 '18 at 14:15
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    You haven't show an example of a sentence in which you would want to shorten it that way. If you're saying that something should be done using mean imputation, and it doesn't matter whether conditional or unconditional mean imputation is used, then why not just write "mean imputation"? – Green Grasso Holm Apr 3 '18 at 14:21
  • @GreenGrassoHolm I added an example sentence. To rephrase my question: I simple want to use parentheses in front of a word, to show that what is within these parentheses is kind of optional, like the plural s behind a word (which then is called parenthetical-plural english.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/parenthetical-plural) – Qaswed Apr 3 '18 at 14:51
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    Ah, I see now. You're bundling entirely parallel situations. It's like writing "To get hot/cold water, turn the knob marked H/C." Got it. – Green Grasso Holm Apr 3 '18 at 15:15

In the example you've given, I believe "(un)conditional" is correct. There's no need to add a space or hyphen that doesn't exist in the word "unconditional".

  • A hyphen would only make sense if "un-conditional" would be a real word, correct? Like the hyphen in "(re-)creation" (tex.stackexchange.com/questions/103608/…) means "re-creation" or "creation" and not "recreation" or "creation". I also see, that a space would make it unclear where the (un) belongs to. Therefore, I also believe that "(un)conditional" is correct. But still, do you have a reference, or ideas where I can find a some rules/examples? – Qaswed Apr 3 '18 at 15:52

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