All the other answers, except that recommending reformulation, are
simply deferences to the questionable authority of style guides. In the
following, I provide a reason to use
When a noun is preceded by many adjectives, they are adjected to it
right to left, beginning with the closest.
.. [c [b [a n]]] ..
Thus, an unnecessary fluff remover is an unnecessary remover of fluff.
The structure of this phrase is
b [a n]
If one wants to refer to a remover of unnecessary fluff, one cannot do
this by bringing about the structure
[b a] n
There is no way of doing this. The only possible solution is to combine
the two adjectives into one. This is done using a symbol whose name is
literally under one (ὑπ' ἕν), namely the hyphen. Thus, the structure
of unnecessary-fluff remover is
The only way to turn an expression consisting of many words into a
single attribute is to substitute hyphens for its spaces.
This may seem unsatisfactory on account of the fact that North and
America are more tightly connected than America and based. To
address this concern, we might introduce a weakened hyphen and represent
it by the en-rule (--), whence:
The weak hyphen has a larger scope, allowing it to connect standardly
hyphenated expressions as well as single words.
The problem with the suggestion from @PeterShor is that in
North America--based company
North and America are not connected at all, and there is no need for
the weakened hyphen, since there is nothing relative to which it is
weaker. Nor is any hyphen able to reach across a space. If he meant
something different, it is not apparent from his answer what magical
powers his en-rule possesses that it may connect three words using only
one connector. As far as I can see, his solution refers to an
America-based company that is North, just as
North America-based company
does. The erroneous notion (propagated by some style guides, amongst
them Chicago) that composite proper nouns such as North America cannot
be hyphenated comes from a stupidly exaggerated reverence for proper
nouns. The more impressive idea of hyphens of different powers is, to
my knowledge, from Fowler in A Dictionary of Modern English Usage
(p. 244, ''[o]bviously connexions of different power are needed''), his
the Lloyd-George--Winston-Churchill government
the Lloyd-George=Winston-Churchill government
Fowler notes that ''this is an innovation that would hardly find
acceptance.'' But also holds that it is the only logical way of using
these words in this order and sense. It is clearer in his example that
hyphens of only one power are unsatisfactory. In our case,
North-America-based company seems as acceptable as well-tought-out
plan (the alternative being well--thought-out plan).