Do you know what percentage of style guides agree on when to use the percent sign in a sentence? Zero! To understand when to use the percent sign instead of the word percent, we need to look at the recommendations provided by all four of our primary style guides: The Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago style) The Associated Press Stylebook (AP style) Publication Manual of … [Read more...] about When to Use the Percent Sign in a Sentence (The Ultimate Guide)
Most titles and headings are formatted with headline-style capitalization, which means that the first and last words and all the main words in between are capitalized (as demonstrated in the title of this blog post). But how should you capitalize hyphenated words in titles and headings using headline-style capitalization? The general guideline is to capitalize all the main … [Read more...] about How to Capitalize Hyphenated Words in Titles and Headings
Headline-style capitalization, also called title case, means that the main words are capitalized and the “less important” words are lowercased in titles and headings. Headline-style capitalization is the format you see in most books and magazines. This blog features headline-style capitalization for all titles and most headings. Here are several examples: Should You Use … [Read more...] about What Is Headline-Style Capitalization?
Tables and figures can add depth and clarity to your writing. But your readers may be confused or distracted if visual content suddenly appears in your document without an explanation. Avoid surprising your readers by following these five guidelines for how to reference tables and figures in text. Before we begin, let’s define tables and figures. What Are Tables and … [Read more...] about How to Reference Tables and Figures in Text
Do you follow American-English writing standards? If so, today’s post is for you because it explains two instances when you should use single quotation marks followed by two instances when you may want to use them. Please note that single quotation marks are used more frequently in British English and, therefore, have more applications than the four instances shown … [Read more...] about When to Use Single Quotation Marks
Ships and boats hold a special place in the human experience. Our ancestors marked this importance by giving thoughtful names to their watercraft just as we do today.1 In fact, we even have guidelines for how to write the names of ships and boats to set them apart from less adventurous modes of travel, like minivans. We’ll begin by looking at the guidelines for writing ship … [Read more...] about How to Write the Names of Ships and Boats
The writing world is riddled with “rules” based on misunderstood guidelines. One such rule is that we should never start a sentence with a number. While this blanket ban is understandable—depending on the content, starting a sentence with a number can be confusing or disruptive for readers—doing so is generally grammatically acceptable if you follow the three guidelines … [Read more...] about Three Tips for Starting a Sentence with a Number
The following guidelines explain when to use italics or quotation marks with foreign words to set them apart from the surrounding English text. These guidelines are for general words in business documents, nonfiction, journalism, and academic writing but aren’t for proper nouns, such as people’s names or place names, which typically don’t require special formatting. But … [Read more...] about When to Use Italics or Quotation Marks with Foreign Words
According to the Astrophysical Journal, our universe is home to 200 trillion galaxies—that’s ten times more than the 200 billion galaxies previously believed to be in existence.1 I can’t envision 200 billion galaxies, let alone 200 trillion. However, I can envision writing large numbers according to the recommendations provided by our primary style guides. So, whether you’re … [Read more...] about How to Write Large Numbers
My last post tackled the question of which style guide is best for you. Style guides work hand in hand with dictionaries, so the logical next question is, which dictionary is best for you? Just like style guides, certain dictionaries enjoy wider usage within specific writing categories, so we’ll look at three popular options and conclude with a brief discussion on pocket … [Read more...] about Which Dictionary Is Best for You?
Traditional authors, journalists, and those in academia usually follow their organization’s or publisher’s chosen style guide. But if you’re an independent author, blogger, or business owner, you can decide which style guide is best for your writing. Today’s post provides an overview of the “big four” style guides in American English: The Associated Press Stylebook (AP … [Read more...] about Which Style Guide Is Best for You?
Like the majority of Generation Xers, I was born in the decade of disco, leisure suits, and questionable mustaches. Does that mean I was born in the 1970s, the ’70s, or the seventies? Today’s post answers that question by analyzing how to write decades as complete numerals and words as well as abbreviated numerals. Should We Write Decades as Numerals or Words? As a general … [Read more...] about How to Write Decades as Words and Numerals
Today’s post answers seven technology-related spelling questions: (1) Is it e-mail or email? (2) Is Internet capitalized? (3) Is it Web site, web site, or website? (4) Is it Web page, web page, or webpage? (5) Is Web capitalized when abbreviating the World Wide Web? (6) Is it tweet or Tweet? and (7) Is it e-book or ebook? We’ll find the answers by examining four popular … [Read more...] about Is It E-Mail or Email? Seven Technology Spelling Questions Answered
I previously published a post called "Five Helpful Writing and Editing Websites and Blogs." A five-item list is a measly attempt for such a large topic, so today’s post expands that original list to ten writing websites and blogs. These resources cover a wide variety of subjects, so I’m confident that you’ll find something here that you can apply to your business or nonfiction … [Read more...] about Ten Helpful Writing Websites and Blogs
Today’s post shares guidelines for putting ellipsis points in brackets when they are added to quotations that already include ellipses for dialogue disruptions or text omissions. Bracketed ellipses are a rather rare occurrence; so, review the first three parts of this series if you need broader information about ellipses: How to Use Ellipses, Part 1: Ellipses within and … [Read more...] about How to Use Ellipses, Part 4: Ellipses in Brackets
The ellipsis point series just keeps rollin' along! Today’s post demonstrates how to use ellipses at the beginning and end of quoted sentences. This post was preceded by “How to Use Ellipses, Part 1: Ellipses within and between Quoted Sentences” and “How to Use Ellipses, Part 2: Ellipses between Quoted Paragraphs.” How to Use Ellipses at the Beginning of Quoted … [Read more...] about How to Use Ellipses, Part 3: Ellipses at the Beginning and End of Quoted Sentences
“How to Use Ellipses, Part 1” reviewed the purpose of ellipsis points and demonstrated how to use them within and between quoted sentences. Today’s post explains how to use ellipses between quoted paragraphs. Part 3 will cover ellipses at the beginning and at the end of a quoted sentence. Part 4 will outline ellipsis usage in brackets. And, Part 5 will close the series by … [Read more...] about How to Use Ellipses, Part 2: Ellipses between Quoted Paragraphs
Ellipses, which are also called ellipsis points and ellipsis dots, represent omissions in quotations and interruptions in dialogue. That seems simple enough, doesn’t it? But, that’s where the simplicity ends because several of our most well-respected style and usage guides disagree on how ellipses should be formatted. Let’s unravel these conflicting recommendations point by … [Read more...] about How to Use Ellipses, Part 1: Ellipses within and between Quoted Sentences
Contractions are unavoidable. They appear in everything from songs and articles to product packaging. (Even the tiger on my box of breakfast flakes is telling me that “They’re great!”) But are contractions okay in business writing? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s frustrating, I know! Here are three questions to ponder as you decide if you should use contractions in your own … [Read more...] about Are Contractions Okay in Business Writing?
At the end of my last post, “Block Quotations, Part 3—Block Quotation Issues and Concerns,” I mentioned that my next post would outline valid reasons to (gasp!) ignore your style guide. However, I have decided to put that topic on hold until next week in order to offer a brief primer on the definition and purpose of style guides. What Is a Style Guide? Writing style guides … [Read more...] about What Is a Style Guide?
My last post, “Block Quotations, Part 1: How to Introduce Block Quotations,” discussed the purpose of block quotations, how long they should be, and how to introduce them in your content. Today’s follow-up explains how to format block quotations: How much should they be indented? How should you handle quotations within block quotations? Does the format change for … [Read more...] about Block Quotations, Part 2: How to Format Block Quotations
Block quotations, also called block quotes, are long quotations that are indented from the surrounding text. In the first part of this three-part series, I’ll explain how to introduce block quotations in your content. But first, let's take a look at the purpose of block quotations and how long they should be. The Purpose of Block Quotations Although block quotations were … [Read more...] about Block Quotations, Part 1: How to Introduce Block Quotations
Whether you are writing an article, a blog post, or a report, quotations can add depth and authenticity to your content. (And, you can quote me on that!) Here is a quick overview on how to introduce run-in quotations, which are short quotations integrated into sentences. Please note that the information below is only intended for quotations within nonfiction works, articles, … [Read more...] about How to Introduce Run-in Quotations
In the world of nonfiction writing, there are four primary style guides that explain everything from proper abbreviation usage to number formatting. However, we're not limited to those guides; in fact, there are many alternative style guides that may meet your needs as standalone resources or as complements to your chosen primary guide. Primary Style Guides First, let’s look … [Read more...] about Alternative Style Guides
We face many difficult questions every day: Why do cats go crazy right before bedtime? Do aliens exist? Who will triumph on Game of Thrones? (No spoilers, please!) And of course, should we use digits or spell out numbers online? Although I’ve yet to see an alien—and I only pretend to understand my cats—I was confident in my grasp of numbers until I read Hoa Loranger’s blog … [Read more...] about Should We Spell Out Numbers Online?