Paula, an executive assistant, wrote to ask me to continue the discussion of apostrophes. She wants to know why boss's has an apostrophe and an s but Chris' has only an apostrophe. The truth is that Chris takes just an apostrophe only if you follow the rules in the...
Here is the sixty-four thousand dollar ($64,000) question: Why do we repeat numbers? I am talking about these redundancies: within seven (7) daysfourteen dollars and seven cents ($14.07) a waiting period of sixty (60) days Answer: Because we have always done it that way! Despite how we have always...
Maggie wrote to ask about the plural of mouse when the word refers to the electronic object we cup in our right or left hand. As a librarian, she needs to report regularly on the number of mice or mouses she has sent for repair. According to my American...
I just received an email from Heather, who is desperate to understand correct apostrophe use for possessives. Relax, Heather. It isn't as tricky as it seems. We can cover the basics in just four simple rules. 1. Generally, we do not use apostrophes to make a plural (that is, to...
It is no longer necessary to have the three-pound Bible of publishing on your bookshelf. The Chicago Manual of Style has just gone online. According to today's announcement, an introductory one-year subscription is $25 if you subscribe by September 30, 2007--$30 after that date. Thirty-day free trials are available....
Rita sent a great question today. She wanted to know the correct way to make combined titles plural when using a slash. Is it singer/producers? Or singers/producers? Singer/songwriters? Or singers/songwriters? The answer is this: Make it plural just once--not twice. These are correct:Singer/songwriters: Both singer/songwriters received a Grammy. Singer/producers: It's...
My husband recently received a notice from one of our credit card companies. It began like this:You recently received a notification that your credit line was increased on your Our Company credit card. Because of a system error, your notice stated that your credit line was increased to $3,000.00...
I am glad that Raymond Ward of The (New) Legal Writer wrote about an Office Team survey on typos (typographical errors). The survey showed that typos do affect our job prospects. When 150 executives were asked, "How many typos in a resume does it take for you to not...
Sometimes we slavishly follow the rules of writing, when we ought to focus on communicating. We try to never split an infinitive. (I just did!) We're put off by contractions. (Did you notice mine?) And we avoid starting a sentence with a conjunction. (Why?) Another "rule" people take too...
Could you lose out on a new job because of an emoticon? Would a potential romantic interest not be interested in you because of your writing errors? It happens--but I hope it doesn't happen to you. This week two women told me about rejecting others because of bad first impressions...