Home > Grammar > Self-publish or self publish?

Self-publish or self publish?

As I wrote a post on the indie revolution, I was left scratching my head over the spelling of a monumental word in the article. Was it self-publish—or self publish? A web search brought more confusion than clarity. Both appeared acceptable if you went by usage alone.

Feeling like a grammarian sleuth, I set out to find irrefutable proof of the spelling of this word. I didn’t want hearsay. I didn’t want opinions. I wanted proof. Forget the fluff. Just facts.

Evidence #1:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style states the following specifically regarding hyphenation for the word self.
    • “Both noun and adjective forms hyphenated, except where self is followed by a suffix or preceded by un.” (CMOS, 16th edition [7.85 under #3 of the chart, Compound Formed with Specific Terms, on page 382]) Examples: self-conscious, self-restraint, self-sustaining
    • Since self in self-publish is not followed by a suffix or preceded by un, it would be spelled with a hyphen as self-publish.

Evidence #2:

  • The Merriam-Webster Dictionary hyphenates the verb self-publish.

As you can see, all the evidence points in favor of writing the verb as self-publish. The hyphen reigns!

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I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three books: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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