The Hyphenation Associated with Prefixes & Suffixes in Academic Texts
There are many different uses of hyphens in the English language, and some authors might argue with justice that there is a great deal too much unpredictability in the principles governing hyphen use. This unpredictability is certainly a factor when adding prefixes and suffixes to English words, but there are also some guidelines worth remembering if you wish to make your decisions about the hyphenation associated with prefixes and suffixes a little easier and more effective.
A hyphen can be and often is used when a prefix is added to a word (pre-test), but the compound term can instead be closed (pretest). In some cases using a hyphen or not depends on whether British or American English is used in a document because American English tends to use closed forms without hyphens more often than British English does. Access to a dictionary with information on one or both versions of the language is therefore necessary, with a good dictionary usually providing correct forms for well-established terms with prefixes. If the compound term does not appear in dictionaries of either British or American English, hyphenating the word is the safest approach. If both hyphenated and unhyphenated forms appear in dictionaries without any indication of which is appropriate to each form of the language, either is generally acceptable as long as each term is used consistently throughout a document and no confusion is created by the compound (‘re-create,’ for instance, means something very different than ‘recreate’ does). Problematic collisions of instances of the same vowel without hyphenation should be avoided, so a hyphen should always appear in ‘re-establish’ and ‘anti-intellectual,’ but there are exceptions to this rule: ‘cooperate’ and ‘coordinate,’ for instance, are usually closed.
When a prefix is repeated, a hyphen should be used after the first instance (sub-subsection) and a hyphen should always be used when adding a prefix before a capitalised word or a date: ‘a non-English speaker’ and ‘post-1970s.’ A hyphen should also appear after a prefix added to a term that is already a hyphenated compound (non-self-indulging), but when the compound is an open one an en rule is used instead of a hyphen in American English (pre–Vietnam War). When a prefix appears alone a hyphen must be used to represent the missing word, as it is in ‘over- and undermagnified,’ and when ‘ex’ is used to indicate a previous state, it is usually followed by a hyphen (ex-wife). ‘Mid’ is a special case because it stands alone as an independent adjective in some contexts (mid thirteenth century), so while it too can form a closed compound, it is often followed by a hyphen even when other prefixes are not, as in ‘a mid-range property.’
Hyphens are not generally used when suffixes are added to words, so the resulting term is almost always closed: examples include ‘ladylike,’ ‘lifeless,’ ‘waterproof’ and ‘landscape.’ However, if the word to which the suffix is added already ends with two ‘l’s, a hyphen is needed before ‘less’ and ‘like,’ a principle applied in ‘a stall-less stable’ and ‘a mall-like shopping centre.’ A hyphen is also needed when a suffix appears after a name or in rare combinations or newly coined terms, so a hyphen is appropriate in ‘Cambridge-like’ and ‘vulture-like.’ Sometimes a term that usually functions as a complete word, such as ‘style’ or ‘ready,’ appears as a suffix to form an adjective, in which case a hyphen is generally used – ‘computer-style graphics’ or ‘a camera-ready copy’ – and do note that ‘user-friendly’ follows this pattern.
Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At Proof-Reading-Service.com we offer the highest quality journal article editing, phd thesis editing and proofreading services via our large and extremely dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals. All of our proofreaders are native speakers of English who have earned their own postgraduate degrees, and their areas of specialisation cover such a wide range of disciplines that we are able to help our international clientele with research editing to improve and perfect all kinds of academic manuscripts for successful publication. Many of the carefully trained members of our expert editing and proofreading team work predominantly on articles intended for publication in scholarly journals, applying painstaking journal editing standards to ensure that the references and formatting used in each paper are in conformity with the journal’s instructions for authors and to correct any grammar, spelling, punctuation or simple typing errors. In this way, we enable our clients to report their research in the clear and accurate ways required to impress acquisitions proofreaders and achieve publication.
Our scientific proofreading services for the authors of a wide variety of scientific journal papers are especially popular, but we also offer manuscript proofreading services and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit manuscripts in all scholarly disciplines, as well as beyond them. We have team members who specialise in medical proofreading services, and some of our experts dedicate their time exclusively to PhD proofreading and master’s proofreading, offering research students the opportunity to improve their use of formatting and language through the most exacting PhD thesis editing and dissertation proofreading practices. Whether you are preparing a conference paper for presentation, polishing a progress report to share with colleagues, or facing the daunting task of editing and perfecting any kind of scholarly document for publication, a qualified member of our professional team can provide invaluable assistance and give you greater confidence in your written work.
If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.