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Accordingly, George Orwell's sixth rule of effective writing was to "Break any of [the previous five] rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous."

I believe that this is fairly barbarous in style terms:

"Contrary to popular belief, creative tendencies are evenly spread throughout right- and left-handed populations."

I prefer:

"Contrary to popular belief, creative tendencies are evenly spread throughout right and left-handed populations."

So I've checked out a few style guides (the few that are available online) and can't seem to find any support for the view! Does anyone know of any authority to back me up when I say I'd much rather omit the hanging/suspended/dangling hyphen?

I know in most circumstances I could rearrange the sentence to avoid the issue, but in this case I'm talking trancript, so it has to be as the person said it.

Thanks,
Tom
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in this case I'm talking trancript, so it has to be as the person said it.
Well the person did not use any punctuation at all when they said it, Tom, so I see no reason to flout custom. The hyphen is usual there in careful writing; otherwise, it reads as 'right populations and left-handed populations'.
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From 'Fowler's Modern English Usage' (Publ.: Oxford University Press):

"... 'Both four- and six-cylinder models are made.' The function of a hyphen is to link a word with its immediate neighbour, and to separate them in this way to avoid doubling the linked word is a clumsy device that should be avoided if possible; which is the lesser evil is a matter of taste in each case..."