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March 16, 2006


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Thank you, Linn!

Manashree Prakash

Hi Lynn,
A heartfelt "Thank you" for writing this piece of information. You are God sent.

Zach Sparrow

Incredibly helpful! Thank you for writing the explanation in such basic terminology that practically anyone can understand it!


Almir, Manashree, and Zach, you are all welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Pradeep Paul

Hi Lynn, this article has cleared my thoughts. Thank u so much

Pradeep Paul

You have cleared views regarding follow-up and follow up, but how about one word followup? Please explain.


Hi, Pradeep. I have not seen "followup" as one word in any style guides. However, the trend is to close up some hyphenated words after they become commonly recognized and understood. For example, "microwave" was originally "micro-wave," and "e-mail" is moving toward "email."

The noun "followup" is probably appearing, but it is not yet in any style guides on my shelf. I would avoid it, since it may confuse readers who wonder what a "wup" is.



Hi Lynn

Thanks a lot for the clarification. I was confused with so many tips, but this one is very clear.


Makes perfect sense!


This is the best advice I have seen. Thank you.

And what about followup? as one word?

Business Writing Blog

I haven't seen "followup" as one word in a dictionary or style guide yet. When I see it, I will update this information.



Hi, Lynn. What about communications that begin with the prhase, "This is in follow up to...?" I can't correctly place "the" before follow up, so it would seem that no hyphen should be used. On the other hand, I could replace "in" with "a," suggesting that follow-up is a noun or adjective and is, thus, unhyphenated.

Business Writing Blog

Your example is a noun. Place "the" before the phrase like this:

"This is the follow-up to . . . "



thank you.. you explain it so clearly..


Thanks Lyn. I wish I could send this to everyone at my company!

Business Writing Blog

AR, why not send the link to everyone?



What if it's the subject of an email such as Follow up on Issue A

Business Writing Blog

Try my trick: Can you insert "the" before the word? If you can, it's a noun and needs a hyphen.

The Follow-Up on Issue A


Jerry Everett

Thanks again for clarity on a oft-used business term.


So, in this case:
"Barry's highly anticipated follow up to 2009's smash hit will be released soon." the hyphen is NOT needed? It feels like it needs a hyphen.

Business Writing Blog

Rehana, you are right. It needs a hyphen. "The highly anticipated follow-up...."



Hi Lynn. Could you help to clarify when,where and why "Apostrophe" to be used in sentences like "She should follow up in a month's time or she should follow up in 3 months' time". What are the guidelines?

Business Writing Blog

Samik, I have written about your topic. See the Search box at the top right on this page? Type this phrase in it:

Years' or Year's or Years

You will find the explanation in that post.



This has been very helpful. We write a report an we call it "The Audit Follow-up Report"

My question is, should "Up" be capitalized? Follow-Up or Follow-up?

Kind regards,

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Amar. Please search for my blog post called "Capitalizing Hyphenated Words in Titles." In it, I discuss your question.




I love this site. It is in my favorites list. Thank you for your help.


In medical transcription they have omitted follow-up and use it as one word followup but the rules apply as if you use follow-up.

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Naomi. So a nurse would make a followup appointment and then follow up with the patient?

I am not surprised to learn that the word is beginning to be closed up.


Adjoa des Bordes

Thanks very much Lyn for your explanations. I'd like to know if I should say follow up to or follow up on something.
Thanks, Adjoa

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Adjoa. Typically the correct expression is "follow up on."

I want to follow up on what we discussed.
Did you follow up on Dina's request?

There are circumstances in which "follow up to" is more suitable. Here is an example:
Will there be any follow-up to the training program?

I hope those examples help you.



I am a court reporter and have this phrase come up almost everyday.
1- They recommend follow up visits.
2- I had follow ups.

Should these "follow up" phrases be hyphenated?
Thank You

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Amanda. Your examples are similar to those I shared above in the post.

In sentence 1, the term is an adjective. In sentence 2, it is a noun.

Both examples need a hyphen.



I'm a medical transcriptionist.

Follow-up = adjective, as in "follow-up care."

Follow up = verb, as in "will follow up tomorrow."

Followup = noun, as in "will be seen in followup."

Unfortunately, even most medical transcriptionists get it wrong. :)

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Pat. Nearly all my reference books are still showing the noun form with a hyphen. I wonder which style manual you follow. If you see this comment, please let me know.


Kathleen Jo

Thank you for this article, Lynn. It was very helpful.


Lynn, I am so glad that I stumbled upon your blog, I appreciate your help and knowledge. I was wondering if this rule applies to the word "pick up". I'm not sure if it is suppose to be one word, two words, or a hyphenated phrase.
Thanks again!
- Sandy

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Sandy. The rendering of your word depends on how you will use it.

Pick-up. A noun describing a person or thing picked up or increasing:

"We are pleased about the pick-up in business."

"I have a pick-up to make downtown before I end my shift."

Pick up. A verb:

"We are pleased that our business has picked up."

"I have to pick up a passenger downtown before I end my shift."

Pickup. An adjective meaning "informally organized":

"He likes to participate in basketball pickup games."

Sandy, if your budget includes money for a current dictionary, I recommend getting one. It will answer many of your questions. If you live in the U.S., I recommend "Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary" and "The American Heritage College Dictionary."

If you live in Canada, I recommend "Canadian Oxford Dictionary."

Reference books will not necessarily agree on the rendering of your word or other words. I just checked my "Canadian Oxford Dictionary" and found "pickup" for the noun version. Nevertheless, a current dictionary will guide you in your choices.



How about in-person? In person? Thanks!

Business Writing Blog

Ken, it depends on the context:

Let's schedule an in-person interview.

I look forward to meeting you in person.



Can you pls let me know how to say

Mr George is flowing it up, into daily basis

Business Writing Blog

Aida, here are several correct ways:

Mr. George is following it up daily.


Mr. George follows it up daily.


Mr. George follows up daily.



Very clear explanation. Thanks for this article.

Christian Hesketh

In my experience, the hyphenated form should be reserved for use of the term as an adjective, but not a noun.

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Christian. Do your reference manuals support your experience?



Thank you. This helps me to write a follow-up email today. ;)

Business Writing Blog

Good! You are correct!


V Jemmy

This makes sense now. Thank you!


Excellent, very concise and easy to understand. Thank you.

Business Writing Blog

I am glad you liked it, V Jemmy and Ben. Thank you for writing.


Jonathan Stephens

Thank you for the article. I just used it to change my incorrect "a follow up bet" to "a follow-up bet" in my own article. I had a feeling something was wrong, but obviously spell check wasn't helping.

Business Writing Blog

Yes, Jonathan, you are now correct. I am glad to have been helpful.


Vesna Grandja

Yes, this is what I was looking for. If I wasn't curious to know, I would have spelled follow-up incorrectly half the time.

Business Writing Blog

Glad to be helpful!


Gary Brazzell

Helpful. Used this to update our internal style guide after my journalism background staff got into a scuffle with my marketing background staff. Fortunately, that's about as dangerous as a Nerf battle.

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Gary. I am glad that I helped end the battle. Thanks for commenting.



Thank you, Lynn.
You've made it remarkably simple!

Business Writing Blog

Hello, Rashmi. Remarkably simple? Thank you! That is my goal.


Arocha Christine Vivian

Hi lynn i have just been given the post of customer growth and retention manager with an sms company and as for now the most important is phone call follow up,how should i start that call and what words should i use thanks Vivian

Business Writing Blog

I am not sure what you want to accomplish with each call. Of course, you will begin with your name and company name, then the reason for your call.

Good luck!


christopher Park

You nailed it, man! Amazing!


Great explanation, thank you


Would the same trick apply to pick up and pick-up?


This is a perfect page. Thank you!




Business Writing Blog

Excellent! I hope you succeeded.





What about this sentence. Does useage of Follow up need a hyphen? To me it appears as a noun in this sentence, but (the) does not fit in front of it.

"This column should be listed as OK if no follow up error is determined"

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Glenna. Your "follow-up" is an adjective and needs a hyphen.

You can put "the" in front of it:
"This column should be listed as OK if the follow-up error is determined."

Yes, "the" changes the meaning of your sentence, but it does work in that construction.



This is a good post, but it is not entirely accurate. For example, the subject of an email might be "Follow-up to our October meeting." Here, follow-up functions as a noun, but placing "the" in front of follow-up would be awkward ("The follow-up to our October meeting") and perhaps inaccurate. It is not the case, then, that "if you cannot insert the before follow up, you know the phrase is a verb."

Business Writing Blog

Hi, Doug. You may choose not to place "the" in front of your subject, but you could. It might be slightly awkward, but there's really nothing wrong with it. That's why you know the phrase needs a hyphen.

In contrast, if your subject were "Please Follow Up on Our October Meeting," "the" would make no sense before "follow up." That's how you know the hyphen would be wrong there.

Thanks for the interesting example.


Leonora H. Astete

Hi, Lynn. Your simple explanation and examples make this page very helpful.

Thank you for this.


Business Writing Blog

You are welcome.


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