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Suspended Hyphens

Ever seen a word in a group followed by a hyphen and a space that looks strange? Like this:

ABC Mortgage Company offers special rates and handling of fifteen- and thirty-year mortgages.
Studies have determined the distinctions between right- or left-brain functions.

Welcome to the world of suspended hyphens. When one or more hyphenated adjectives has a common basic element and this element is shown only with the last term, insert a suspending hyphen after each of the incomplete adjectives to indicate a relationship with the last term.

Here are more examples:
  • A three- or four-color glossy cover
  • Two- and four-wheel drive
  • Pre- and post-war
  • First-, second-, and third-graders
  • 25-, 35-, 45-, and 55-year-olds

If you don't like using suspended hyphens, why not re-cast their sentences to avoid them?
Example: using the heading of this article, you could recast to say, "There will be a delay of between two and six days."