Some people are just hyphen-happy. They think that just because some words belong together, they should be hyphenated. Hyphens, however, should be used as glue only for adjectives, not for nouns.
Each vessel must be inspected for fitness-for-service prior to startup.
Here “fitness for service” is used as a noun (with a modifying prepositional phrase), not an adjective.Therefore, you do not need hyphens as glue.
Each vessel must pass a fitness-for-service inspection prior to startup.
Fitness-for-service is used as an adjective to describe which kind of inspection is required. The glue hyphens are needed to show that the entire phrase is modifying the noun “inspection.” Without the glue, you have:
Each vessel must pass a fitness for service inspection prior to startup.
Are we determining whether the vessel is fit for service, or fit for service inspection? To remove all doubt, hyphenate.
Rule of Thumb:
Hyphenate phrases that act as an adjective modifying a noun, but do not hyphenate a noun.
She has the high-permeability core on her desk. (“high-perm” is adjective modifying the noun “core”)
The core on her desk has a high permeability. (permeability is a noun, with high as an adjective)
Hilarious Typo of the Day:
“Some wells may not need to be replaced if equipped with insulted tubing.”
Well, send somebody out there to talk trash and insult that tubing, which I’m sure is much cheaper in the long run than insulated tubing!
Famous Quote of the Day:
“Being a star has made it possible for me to get insulted in places where the average Negro could never hope to go and get insulted.”
– Sammy Davis, Jr., American comedian, singer and dancer, 1925-1990