I've seen it used both ways, but I'm wondering what is the proper way to punctuate phrases with adverbs and words like "based".

example would be: academically-based instruction vs. academically based instruction

newly-identified disease vs. newly identified disease

Thank you.

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    The usual rule of thumb is to favour These are academically-based instructions when it comes before the referent noun, as opposed to These instructions are academically based, where the noun comes first. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 17:05
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    Dunno about "inaccurate". It's true you'll probably never come across a hyphen between very and the following adjective, but anyone who thinks a finely-tuned machine is actually "incorrect" is just overstating the case for his particular preferred Style Guide. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 17:45
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    @FumbleFingers That rule of thumb applies when the first member of the compound adjective is itself a noun or an adjective; it does not apply so frequently when the first element is an adverb, especially one in -ly, because it’s arguably not a compound adjective in such cases, but simply an adjective modified by an adverb. Personally I would never use a hyphen in cases like academically based, though I would in well-behaved (even predicatively). Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 23:13
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    I don't know of any style guide that would say to use a hyphen. From The Chicago Manual of Style: "Compounds formed by an adverb ending in ly plus an adjective or participle (such as largely irrelevant or smartly dressed) are not hyphenated either before or after a noun, since ambiguity is virtually impossible. (The ly ending with adverbs signals to the reader that the next word will be another modifier, not a noun.)" The Associated Press Stylebook also says not to hyphenate in this case. Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 2:41
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    Incidentally, this should not have been marked as a duplicate of the question it was. This isn't about compound adjectives in general, but specifically about compound adjectives that start with an ly adverb. Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


According to the New York Times: "In general, assume you can go without a hyphen unless a modifying phrase or expression would truly be confusing or hard to read without it.... A hyphen is never necessary in compound modifiers with an adverb ending in -ly."

https://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/hyphens-run-amok/ (The article evaluates 7 examples where hyphens were not necessary—or simply incorrect.)

Style guides might vary, but this NYT advice matches what I've been taught and has passed muster with copy editors of academic-journal articles and books I've coauthored.

  • +1 I don't know of any style guide that says to use a hyphen in this case. As I mention in a comment under the question itself, The Chicago Manual of Style says not to hyphenate. The Associated Press Stylebook also says not to hyphenate in this case. Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 2:44

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