Word Choice – Coworker or Co-worker

Daniel’s question: “I am not sure which is the right spelling: coworkers or co-workers?”

BiztipWritingTip response: Unfortunately, this question is still being debated. Both the CP (Canadian Press) and the AP (Associated Press) stylebooks recommend co-worker. So does the dictionary associated with the MicroSoft Word program.

But The Chicago Manual of Style and The Economist’s Style Guide (British) suggest that prefixes of one syllable, such as “co,”can be used to form a single word. Therefore, coworker is acceptable. Medical style books, such as Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) and American Medical Manual of Style (AMA), also support coworker.

It all seems to hinge on the industry you are involved with.

I prefer co-worker. When I read quickly, my brain tends to focus on the “cow” part of coworker. But that’s me. I do believe, however, that with writers trying to reduce the number of keystrokes they have to use that the hyphen will probably vanish.

In the meantime, go with your organization’s style guide.