Turning an expression into a noun by dash

Discussion in 'English Only' started by UBCDAP, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. UBCDAP Member

    Chinese - English

    In a paragraph of a financial report, there was a sentence as follows:

    Financial assets--current are sold to another company on December 31, 2009.

    Here, the question is, should we add another dash before the verb "are'? Or, should we put a quotation mark before the word, "Financial," and after the word, "current"? Or, suppose we could simply italicize as Financial assets--current are sold to another company on December 31, 2009.

    The problem is, some believe "Financial assets--current are sold to another company on December 31, 2009" will be just fine. However, I wonder which is correct when it comes to business report.

  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Is the accepted phrase in this report financial assets–current? In other words, do you use that phrase and not something like financial assets (current)?

    If that’s the case, I would write it as you see above: with an en dash. This alerts the reader familiar with that punctuation mark that, unlike a hyphen, two words (financial assets) are being connected to current, not just the single word assets.

    From experience, I know that other people will have other opinions. :)
  3. UBCDAP Member

    Chinese - English
    In the case where I saw how it was put, a dash was used between the words "assets" and "current". Also, the dash seems like an em dash to me. So, is there a difference between which kind of dash used here? And, is it better to italicize or use quotation marks denoting that the expression is actually a "noun" or a "name" of an account?

  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It seems that this particular organisation has a convention of referring to accounts in this way. It is not a question of correct or not in a wider sense. It is a question of the style adopted by this organisation.
  5. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I agree with panj -- you need to follow their style. But if you have any leeway and feel like following my convention, I would suggest en dash (not em dash) and no quoting or italicizing.

    Having said that, ask them if it's an en or em -- if they don't think you're talking about candy-coated chocolate, they might be able to clarify. If they haven't got a clue (or a care), use an en dash.
  6. UBCDAP Member

    Chinese - English
    I see. Just to make sure that if someone puts the sentence as: Financial assets--current--are sold to another company on December 31, 2009.

    Is it a definite wrong?

    And, talking about styles, is there a more commonly accepted one? It seems most of the writers' handbooks have never mentioned about this. That is, when it comes to dash, the books would say it comes in pairs. (So, can we treat the word "current" as a piece of additional information provided for "Financial assets"?)

    As for the organization, it would be nice to know if there is a better way to do it here, to make sure it is easier for readers to read it.

    I proposed the use of Italics and quotation marks becasue:
    1. Italic is often used for titles (here, "Financial assets--current", was said to be the title of an account.)

    2. Quotation is used when you are quoting something (as they are quoting the term as the name of a balance sheet account to be used in a sentence, perhaps this can be one of the better choices, too.)

    So, please kindly let me know how do you think of my suggested answers:
    1. a dash before and after the term
    2. use italic
    3. use quotation mark

    many thanks
  7. UBCDAP Member

    Chinese - English
    Thank you for your timely reply.

    The thing is, there don't seem to have a set rule yet.
    So, I am hoping to know what might be the best way to do it.
  8. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I've already offered an answer about quotes and italics, so I'll note that you're now suggesting you have a lot of latitude here. Do you?

    Are you allowed to say any of these?
    1. Financial assets-current are sold ... (hyphen)
    2. Financial assetscurrent are sold ... (en dash)
    3. Financial assetscurrent are sold ... (em dash)
    4. Financial assets current are sold ... (en dashes with spaces which act as em dashes for some people)
    5. Financial assetscurrentare sold ... (em dashes)
    6. Financial assets (current) are sold ...

    In 1–3, you have a name consisting of three words.
    In 4
    –6, you have a term, financial assets, that is being described by an adjective that is set off.

    So the question is 1) does the company have a style sheet you need to follow, and 2) if not, do you want a three-word name, or a two-word name that is modified?
  9. UBCDAP Member

    Chinese - English
    This is really nice of you for creating the list.

    No, the company does not have a style list to follow just now.
    So, basically, I believe that there are many different usages that are yet to be standardized.

    In addition, as I noticed that some big companies do use quating and italic, I was so confused. So, I hoped to know what the conventional way is.

    Thanks again
  10. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Whenever possible I try to write annual reports for the greenest of potential shareholders. They need to easily understand what you're saying and you must appear as transparent as possible. That means keeping thing things simple and clear by using straightforward English.

    Since you have the opportunity to create your own style guide, I would like to recommend #6: Financial assets (current) ...

    Here are three advantages:
    1. Simplicity -- everyone's going to understand it; you're using words they already know and forms they're familiar with.
    2. Clarity -- no jargon, no made-up words, so you won't sound like you may be hiding secrets behind new or complicated words -- it will inspire confidence.
    3. Flexibility -- we've talked about a single phrase, but there's every chance you'll need to expand on it, e.g. financial assets (last year), financial assets (2008), financial assets (pending), financial assets (estimated), financial assets (excluding capital investment), etc. I'm making these up, but you can see how easy it is to expand on the initial term and still keep everyone nodding rather than frowning.

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