Word Choice – Follow Up Versus Follow-Up

Pamela’s question: “In the medical field, you’ll hear ‘follow up’ a lot. For example, ‘the patient was seen in follow up’ or ‘I will follow up with this patient.’ I’ve seen this spelled follow-upfollowup and follow up. Which is correct? Or are they all correct?”

BizWritingTip response: “Follow up” is a commonly misused, abused and misspelled word. When it is used as a noun or as an adjective, insert a hyphen. When it is used as a verb, write it as two words with no hyphen. Some American dictionaries also permit “followup.” However, this is not a recommended Canadian or British style.

Examples (adjectives)
I need you to come in for a follow-up visit.
Did you write a follow-up letter?

Examples (noun)
The patient was seen in follow-up.
The follow-up is often as important as the initial phone call when seeking new clients.

Examples (verbs)
The doctor will follow up with you.
Please follow up with her.
We will start with grammar and follow up with writing style tomorrow.

Note: When you are using “follow up” as a verb, it is normally followed by the preposition “with.”

I trust this issue will not require a further follow-up.

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