Using a hyphen in a compound adjective that includes an acronym


In my organization, one of the policies for using acronyms in written material is to first spell out, or define, the acronym, then place the acronym behind the definiton, in parentheses, i.e. " positioning system (GPS)." My question is when a definition/acronym combination becomes part of a compound adjective, where do I place the hyphen, or is it even "legal" to do it? Would it look like this: " positioning system (GPS)-enabled device"? Or would it look like this: " positioning system-enabled (GPS) device"?


Thank you for any help you can offer!

2 answers


Good question, Chacka!  The policy of putting the acronym in parentheses after the first use of the spelled-out name is standard practice for most style guides, I believe.  There are certain acronyms that are so commonly used that they no longer need the full name spelled out.  GPS might be one of those acronyms, but I'm not sure.  Some acronyms actually become words, such as radar & laser. 


I really don't know the answer to your question, but I do have a solution.  Whenever I am unsure of the proper grammar rule, or writing the correct way creates an awkward sentence, I rearrange the sentence to avoid the problem.  I would try to introduce the term before this sentence if possible, ot flip the phrase around: a device enabled with a global positioning system (GPS). 

link answered Apr 15 '13 at 19:14 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

Thanks for your response, Patty. Looking at the item in question, your solution will work fabulously. Moving forward!

Chacka GarciaApr 15 '13 at 19:26

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I would check out the placement of the commas.

link comment answered Apr 17 '13 at 04:34 Peggy Knott New member

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