Last week in our Grammar and Punctuation for Professionals class at a Seattle firm, participants raised a lot of nitty gritty questions, as usual:
Question: Does 1990s have an apostrophe in it?
Answer: No, not anymore.
Question: If you use a dash between dollar amounts such as $50,000–$60,000, do you have to repeat the dollar sign on the second amount?
Answer: Yes, it’s required for clarity.
Question: Is it acceptable to abbreviate "Washington State" as WA rather than Wash., especially if people in the department say "WA"?
Answer: Yes, it’s acceptable.
While participants worked on self-checks, I researched some questions in the reference books we had on hand:
- The Gregg Reference Manual
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- The Associated Press Style Book
- The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications
Among these four books, "Gregg" distinguished itself as the best all-around pick for a combination of ease of use, information, and number of examples. The Microsoft Manual of Style didn’t address all topics. "Chicago" required more time to find things. While fast,"AP" had fewer examples.
Each of these fine reference books has its audience. See our Recommended Books page for a discussion of the target audience for each manual.
Do you know how to punctuate the end of this sentence?
Lu said, "I fear the words ‘Look it up
If not, get a Gregg Reference Manual and look under "Apostrophes, as single quotation marks." (Hint.) Or email me.