I had a friend ask the other day if it is gluten-free or gluten free? In other words, is the phrase hyphenated or not?
Being a grammar nerd, I immediately started thinking about it. What I have been doing, without giving it a whole lot of forethought, is using a hyphen when I use the phrase as an adjective and no hyphen when I am saying something is gluten free.
i.e. I love Udi’s gluten-free bread. Udi’s bread is gluten free.
I wasn’t sure if this was right or not; it just made sense to me when writing. And I can’t guarantee that I have been entirely consistent with this practice, but when asked outright, I realized that is what I’ve been trying to do.
So to settle this very weighty matter once and for all, I consulted two friends who happen to be professional editors.
Kelly‘s response was:
You are right according to APA style, lady.
When two words are combined as adjectives, you hyphenate. If they are used alone, no hyphen.
I’m applauding you.
And June agreed:
Yes. That is also how I have learned it, AP Style, APA Style, possibly even Chicago style! I think you’re good.
So there you have it!
And also? Pat me on the back and give me a gold star.