Spelling tip: When in doubt, close it up

Spelling challenges many of us. To make things more complicated, correct spelling changes over time, as discussed in the “Anticipate The Future” chapter of Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age.

I like the rule proposed in this chapter:  “When in doubt, close it up.” The authors suggest that instead of separating or hyphenating newer terms such as “videogame” or “desktop,” close up the space to spell them as one word.

The book gives three reasons for doing this.

  1. “The way of the Net is not a hyphenated way.”
  2. Save a Keystroke is another style commandment rooted in the way of the Net.”
  3. “We know from experience that new terms often start as two words, then become hyphenated, and eventually end up as one word.”

Another reason to “close up” commonly used terms is to make them easier for the reader to absorb. In the financial realm, I write “outperform” instead of “out-perform,” as I’ve discussed in an earlier post.

Of course, you shouldn’t close up every new term. Remember, the rule says “When in doubt.” To keep yourself from going overboard, google the term to see what spelling is most common. You can also look at trusted role models, such as The Wall Street Journal. I did this when I felt tempted to write glidepath as one word. I ended up keeping the two words separate, bowing to popular usage.

What words would YOU like to close up?


Disclosure: If you click on the Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I link only to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.