Helpful Style Guide Tips

December 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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In true obsessed-with-punctuation form, while finishing up a paper today I scoured the internet* to figure out if nation–state should be connected with a hyphen (-) or an en dash (–)**. While searching, I came across the style guide for The Economist:

Scroll down a bit, and you come across this gem of a suggestion:

I can just picture the bored copy editor putting this list together and slipping that one in like an easter egg for those hearty few who are nerdy enough to read through an entire list of hyphenated and not-hyphenated words.

* If you’re interested in the outcome of this search: although I couldn’t find a definitive word in the matter (e.g. no website said, “Hey dude! Everyone knows that nation–state should be connected with a ____!”), I feel pretty confident that my original choice of an en dash was correct, since en dash is used to connect two terms that do not modify each other, such as Smith–Jones Treaty or California–Oregon border. I think nation–state falls in this category, no?

** Of course this would happen in this post: for some reason the en dashes I coded (that is basically the extent of my html knowledge, haha) do not show up on my screen, and are rendered as lame-ass hyphens instead. Hopefully your computer is smarter than mine, so you can get the full effect of my punctuation journey!

[ images from The Economist ]


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