Posted by: episystechpubs | April 14, 2014

Editor’s Corner: CMOS Q&A (hyphens and numbers)

Good morning folks. It’s been a long time since I’ve given you anything from the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A, but this month has a juicy question about hyphens and numbers, two topics that confuse a lot of us. For the question, answer, usage examples, the description of a giant house, and your reading pleasure, see below:

Q. I am editing a magazine article related to real estate and am struggling with how to hyphenate the descriptions. “With seven bedrooms, four full and two half bathrooms, this home has 6,000 square feet of living space.” Also, “This is a 2,000 square foot, fully renovated four bedroom, three and a half bathroom home.” What does CMOS suggest?

A. Thank you for asking! Reading real estate ads can be painful for us. Your first sentence is passable; the second one needs a lot of hyphens. If a compound phrase (number + noun) serves as an adjective and comes before the noun it modifies, it usually needs hyphens:

· a three-and-a-half-bathroom home

· a four-bedroom townhouse

· a 600-square-foot studio

· a 2,000-square-foot, fully renovated four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home

If the compound phrase (number + noun) serves as a noun itself and does not modify a noun that follows, it does not need hyphens:

· a home with three and a half bathrooms

· a townhouse with four bedrooms

· a studio of 600 square feet

· a home with seven bedrooms, four full and two half bathrooms, and 6,000 square feet of living space

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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