Category Archives: Style manual

Periods and Commas and Quotation Marks: In or Out?


The rules of punctuation can often be likened to the Pirate’s Code, as described by Captain Barbossa in the movie The Pirates of The Caribbean: “…the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” Nowhere is this clearer … Continue reading

Posted in Polls, Punctuation, Style manual, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Yahoo! It’s a Style Guide!


The Yahoo! Style Guide: Writing and Editing for the Web was published earlier this month. If you write for online publishing, it’s well worth a look. (The website, linked above, is also a good resource to bookmark.) What’s that? “What’s … Continue reading

Posted in Style, Style manual, Toolbox | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

From the mailbag: How do I hyphenate that?


Phil asks: What advice do you have for where to place the hyphen in a long word that wraps to the next line?  For example, should the word “transformational” be hyphenated transform-ational or tranforma-tional?  Is there a rule on that?

Posted in Everyday writing, Style manual | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Writing for the web and email


I’m betting that much of what you write ends up in email messages, or on the web. If that’s the case, Jakob Nielsen has some advice for you, based on his studies of how people read email and web pages.

Posted in Audience, Good advice from here and there, Jargon, Plain Language, Style manual, Word Choice | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Elsewhere on the web: “Seriously, What’s So Bad About Adverbs?”


At the science fiction site io9, Charlie Jane Anders has a long post about the dangers of the adverb. Aspiring science-fiction authors receive one piece of advice above all others: Forsake the adverb, the killer of prose. It’s terribly, awfully, … Continue reading

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Pauses and omissions: Using ellipses


The dot-dot-dot thing you use when you want to indicate a pause in dialog, or and omission in a quotation? You know, like this: “The chocolate-coated kippers were . . . interesting.” That’s called an ellipsis. (The plural is ellipses.) … Continue reading

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Contractions make things easier to read


I like contractions—the kind you use in writing and speech, that is. So I was happy to find this little tidbit on the PlainLanguage.gov website: Contractions make your writing more accessible to the reader. Research shows that that they also … Continue reading

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Clarity in little things: What was the date again?


Using numbers to express dates is a common practice, so you don’t have to worry about people being confused when you write something like “Our annual meeting will be held on 5/6/2008.” Right? Everyone knows that bit of shorthand translates … Continue reading

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Article preview: Characteristics of bad writing


I’ve been far too sluggish in publishing new content here, so how about a preview of an upcoming article? My article about the gobbledygook that passes as business writing will be in the May issue of The Editorial Eye. Here’s … Continue reading

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Paragraphs: Keep them short


For most general writing, try to keep your paragraphs short.

Look at the paragraphs in any daily newspaper, and you’re most likely to find that they’re quite short. For example, in today’s edition of The Forum, none of the paragraphs in this local, front-page story are more than one sentence.

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