# Thread: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

1. ## Hyphens used in numerical ranges

Would you support (without recasting) my hyphenated examples below exactly as written and punctuated for the compound modifiers before the nouns?

a \$4-million-to-\$5-million-a-year savings
• a \$75,000-to-\$80,000-a-year increase in spending
• a 65-to-75-cent-a-week deduction
• a 30-to-40-percent-a-year reduction across the board

And, if we use the % symbol, does this look okay?
a 30-to-40%-a-year reduction across the board

This is not homework; it is sheer inquisitiveness.

Thank you.

2. ## Re: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

No. It's all wrong. Why do you have a hyphen between '4' and 'million' etc?
If a hyphen is used to mean 'to', you don't write "- to - ", which equates to "30 to to to 40" etc. Use either "30 to 40" or "30 - 40".
There's a dozen or so too many hyphens in your post.

3. ## Re: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

Hyphens do not mean "to"; an en dash means "to." Hyphens are used in compound modifiers; en dashes are not.

4. ## Re: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

Originally Posted by swansong
Hyphens do not mean "to"; an en dash means "to." Hyphens are used in compound modifiers; en dashes are not.
That's true. Many people use hyphens for dashes (though usually leaving a space - as here - , and I was assuming that's what you were doing.
I would write: "a \$4 - \$5million a year savings." So, I still think there are far to many hyphens. But styles vary, and "a \$4 to \$5m-a-year savings" would be right in some house styles.

5. ## Re: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

Let me get to a computer so I'm not trying to write this on my phone.
Your problem is in trying to use the number as a modifier (which takes a hyphen) and a range (which takes the en-dash) at the same time.

Unfortunately with a very long compound modifier, you end up with an unreasonable number of hyphens. You will have to recast or choose between "incorrect" and natural. I put incorrect in quotes because it's style, not grammar.

You will want to learn about suspended hyphens in the meantime.

6. ## Re: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

Hi Barb, I hadn't heard the term "suspended hyphens", but I've them often.
On this page, the author seems to be contradicting herself by using a dash as the first 'hyphen'. Is that common practice?
http://editingandwritingservices.com/suspended-hyphens/

7. ## Re: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

Thank you, everybody.

8. ## Re: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

Originally Posted by Raymott
Hi Barb, I hadn't heard the term "suspended hyphens", but I've them often.
On this page, the author seems to be contradicting herself by using a dash as the first 'hyphen'. Is that common practice?
http://editingandwritingservices.com/suspended-hyphens/

I would attribute that to a typesetting error and the programs that automatically convert the hyphen on the keyboard to en- or em-dashes (did you see what I did there? ) which is extremely unfortunate on a page about the use of punctuation!

9. ## Re: Hyphens used in numerical ranges

Originally Posted by swansong
Would you support (without recasting) my hyphenated examples below exactly as written and punctuated for the compound modifiers before the nouns?

a \$4-million-to-\$5-million-a-year savings
• a \$75,000-to-\$80,000-a-year increase in spending

• a 65-to-75-cent-a-week deduction
• a 30-to-40-percent-a-year reduction across the board

And, if we use the % symbol, does this look okay?
a 30-to-40%-a-year reduction across the board

This is not homework; it is sheer inquisitiveness.

Thank you.
I cannot support not recasting.
You need to NOT use these as modifying phrases if you don't want make a mess.

This comment on the first sentence would be applicable to all, since they all use the same format:
Use the suspenended hyphen: A \$4- to \$5-million-per-year.
Recast 1: \$4–5 million in savings. [note that's an en-dash = Alt+0151 on your keyboard]
Recast 2: A savings of \$4—5 million annually.

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