Hyphenated Compounds - AMA Manual of Style

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Hyphenated Compounds 


Brenda Gregoline

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PRINTED FROM AMA MANUAL OF STYLE ONLINE (www.amamanualofstyle.com). © American Medical Association, 2009. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the license agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in AMA Manual of Style Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).  Subscriber: null; date: 28 November 2015

Hyphenated Compounds

In titles, subtitles, table headings, and text headings, do not capitalize the second part of a hyphenated compound in the following instances:

  • If either part is a hyphenated prefix or suffix (see Temporary Compounds in 8.3.1, Punctuation, Hyphens and Dashes, Hyphen)

    Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

    Self-referral to Psychiatrists [compound words with the prefix self- are considered one word]

    Intra-abdominal Surgery

  • If both parts together constitute a single word (consult the current edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary or Stedman's or Dorland's medical dictionary)

    Long-term Treatment of Diabetes

    Follow-up Studies of Patients With Leukemia

    Part-time Nursing Staff

    How to Interpret X-ray Films

However, in the case of a temporary compound, in which each part of the hyphenated term carries equal weight, capitalize both words.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Low-Level Activity

Drug-Resistant Bacteria

B-Cell Lymphoma

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

In titles, subtitles, table heads, text headings, and line art, capitalize the first letter of a word that follows a lowercase (but not a capital) Greek letter (see 17.2, Greek Letters, Capitalization After a Greek Letter), a numeral (except when an abbreviated unit of measure that never is capitalized follows), a symbol, or an italicized organic chemistry prefix such as trans- and cis-.

Systemic Adverse Effects of Ophthalmic β-Blockers

Enhancement of Δ-aminolevulinic Acid Photodynamic Therapy

Effectiveness of Timolol at 10% Strength

High-Dose 308-nm Excimer Laser for the Treatment of Psoriasis

α1-Antitrypsin Inhibits Overexpressed Serine Proteinases During Inflammation

Both genus and species should be capitalized in all-capital text headings.


However, they should be treated normally in mixed capital and lowercase headings (see 10.3.6, Proper Nouns, Organisms, and 15.14.1, Nomenclature, Organisms and Pathogens, Biological Nomenclature).

Helicobacter pylori and the Patient With Ulcers

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