To Hyphenate, or Not To Hyphenate?

Got this message yesterday on a editing email list I belong to.

Hyphenation is apparently changing along with many other elements of style and wondering what tracks everyone is following. One trend seems to be dropping hyphenating all together as in “oped,” and “antihyphenation,” the latter of which bothers me. Undoubtedly, “drop the hyphen” emerges from texting and tweeting and other shortened communication venues, but how far should that go?
Thoughts, opinions, anyone?

Here’s my response:
You are correct that the rules of hyphenation do change over time, and are changing. However, you’ve got to have a baseline standard to follow in order to ensure consistency in your editing. I recommend choosing a dictionary and a styleguide to follow as first and second references, such as Merriam-Webster’s 11th or Chicago 15th.
Then, if you want to develop a house style for a particular client that closes up some words that MW would leave open — such as “lifecycle” or “decisionmaker” — you can specify that in the house guide.
If you work for forward-leaning clients, or those involved in the IT industry, I would certainly take the lead in recommending that they close up some terms that MW leaves open — thus “website,” instead of MW‘s stodgy “Web site,” or “email” instead of “e-mail.”


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