I know "a 5-month-old baby" is the correct way to hyphenate things, but what if I have to add a en-dash range?

"A 3–5-month-old baby" would logically be the correct solution, but it looks clunky?

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    "A 3- to 5-month-old baby" avoids the problem. Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 18:41
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    @Cascabel I avoided the use of en dash. I placed a hyphen after 3- because that is usually the way an incomplete hyphenated phrase is done, as in say "three- or four-score". OTOH I might be confused when reading "3 to 5 month-old baby" thinking it meant to say "3 to 5 month-old babies". Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 19:39
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    ... It's called the suspended hyphen. // I think OP's suggestion is accepted by some. But I'd use the suspended hyphen ... I feel it is slightly less clunky. It sounds better than it looks. Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 19:46
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    Color me feeling silly...personally, with my old eyes I have difficulties seeing the difference between hyphen and n-dash. M-dash is easy to see....but the others? I looked at this, but doesn't actually help me. Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 19:56
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    Why would you want to stretch the 'rules' for using hyphens to this degree? What would be wrong with "... a baby three to five months old"? True, it is 31 characters long, compared with 18 characters. But it takes no significantly extra time to read it or to say it. And why would anyone write a sentence like that?
    – Tuffy
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


The problem of mixing hyphens and dashes can be avoided with

A 3- to 5-month-old baby"

As Edwin Ashworth mentions, the use is called a suspended hyphen.

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