In each issue of my monthly ezine, Better Writing at Work, I include an "Error Quest," a little test, or quest, to find one error in a short passage. This month's quest involved finding a word that was missing a hyphen. Unfortunately, the passage was missing two hyphens. I...
Yesterday I visited two websites where underlining had gone wrong. At each site, I clicked underlined (underscored) words and phrases, expecting to be taken to more information. But there was no click. I just sat there, staring at an unchanging screen. In the old days, we used underlining for emphasis....
Yesterday an art director wrote with a request for validation that she is correct. Copywriters who submit their work to her have been using quotation marks to emphasize words. But she believes that the marks have the opposite effect--that they, in fact, undermine the message. Is she correct? Yes....
In business writing classes I often hear questions like these:My boss says never to use a comma with and. Is that correct? My manager says never to start a sentence with but. Is she right? Our newsletter editor says never to start a sentence with however. Is that a rule?I hear...
The use of the forward slash (/) has gone too far. Whether known as the slash, diagonal, virgule, slant, or solidus, the mark is simply showing up too often. I used to see them commonly in only and/or and his/her constructions. But lately I can't turn away from my...
In a Business Writing Skills class last week, a participant raised a familiar question about the use of commas with the word and. She said:I learned the rule that you never use a comma with and. The word and takes the place of the comma. Forget this wrong-headed so-called...
Monday is a holiday in the United States: Presidents Day. Or is it Presidents' Day? It's both. The holiday actually celebrates the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the 1st and the 16th president of the US, respectively. Washington's birthday is February 22. Lincoln's birthday is February 12. Because...
Update on December 27, 2011: For New Year's greetings, read this post. If you--like me--have not yet mailed all your business and personal holiday greetings, you are probably too late for Hanukkah and Christmas. However, you--like me--are just in time to send New Year's greetings. (This thought sustains me.)...
In all the classes on grammar and punctuation I teach, the punctuation mark that causes the most confusion is the apostrophe. It's the little mark used to show possession:one employee's housetwo employees' carsI have already written Apostrophe Help Please! and More Apostrophe Help! This post is for those who...
I have been writing a lot about apostrophes and possessive forms lately, so it was fun to read Raymond Ward's post that brought me to Nicole Stockdale's October 18 post on a recent US Supreme Court ruling. For all who worry about using s's and s' inconsistently, not even the...