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http://www.occc.edu/gholland/EP1/TWC.

doc The Technical Writer's Checklist


Source: http://itrain.org/ttwc/ 1. 2. 3. 4. !. %. &. '. ). 1,. 11. 12. 13. 14. 1!. 1%. 1&. 1'. 1). 2,. 21. 22. 23. 24. 2!. 2%. 2&. 2'. 2). 3,. 31. 32. 33. 34. 3!. 3%. Plan your writing Write only what should be read Get your facts straight Write rewrite rewrite again "hec# gra$$ar spelling and style Select efficient words Write concisely Write positi(ely Place fre*uently $isused words in conte+t -(oid redundancy .ary your sentence structure /se passi(e (oice -(oid sentence frag$ents 0eware of run1on sentences 2on3t o(eruse co$$as Write effecti(e paragraphs "reate unity -dd coherence 0uild logical bridges 4nclude an enticing topic sentence 2e(elop each paragraph fully 0e sure sub5ects and (erbs agree 6a#e co$pany na$es singular /se plural nouns and pronouns 4dentify pronouns Properly use indefinite pronouns -(oid gender1specific language /se nondiscri$inatory language /se parallel words or phrases in lists and series /se bullets correctly "apitali7e correctly Write nu$bers correctly Write with confidence /se a courteous and sincere tone -(oid inappropriate abbre(iations /se your dictionary 3&. 3'. 3). 4,. 41. 42. 43. 44. 4!. 4%. 4&. 4'. 4). !,. !1. !2. !3. !4. !!. !%. !&. !'. !). %,. %1. %2. %3. %4. %!. %%. %&. %'. %). &,. &1. &2. Proofread carefully /se articles accurately "ountable nouns 8uantify countable nouns 9on1countable nouns 9on1countable e+pressions 9on1countable noun predecessors "o$bine articles and con5unctions 0eware of split infiniti(es :now when to end a sentence with a preposition 2on3t begin a sentence with a con5unction /se ;between; for only two ;a$ong; for $ore 43$ hopeful that you3ll understand hopefully /se o(er and $ore than -(oid forwards and towards :now who the people are Since that3s the way it is 6o$entarily is $ore than 5ust a $o$ent Scan (s. s#i$ ;<ff of; is awful Gotten (s. got 0ad (s. badly Pre(entiti(e (s. pre(entati(e People are healthy= (egetables are healthful >egardless of -<? you ha(e $ail >egardless= it3s not irregardless Possessi(e acrony$s Singular and plural possessi(es @or e+a$ple that is 0inding landscape pages <ne or two spaces "urtailing an indirect *uestion <$itting words in a *uotation <$itting sentences within a *uotation And a sentence with a single period Punctuate *uotation $ar#s

http://www.cmu.edu/styleguide/peeves.html
Bhese words and phrases ha(e been ;done to death.; Cere are a few ideas for better ways to get your point across without using redundant aw#ward or pretentious wording: Weak Better A absolutely essential essential acco$pany go with accordingly so additional added $ore other address discuss ade*uate enough enough ad5acent to ne+t to afford an opportunity allow let anticipate e+pect a large nu$ber/part $any/$ost a nu$ber of so$e a (ariety of $any different appreciable $any appro+i$ately about as a $eans of to now at the present ti$e B basic funda$entals be responsible for C capability/capable of center around co$es into conflict co$$it$ent to e+cellence co$ply with co$prise concerning constitutes construct contact currently cutting edge cutting1edge D designate deter$ine do not hesitate to call due to the fact that E e*uitable e(idenced e+hibit e+hibits a tendency to F facilitate factor feedbac# input foreign i$ports for the purpose of basics handle ability/can center in at or on conflicts *uality follow for$ include $a#e up about on is for$s $a#es up build call write reach o$it it. 4t3s already i$plied. forefront frontier leading pioneering progressi(e appoint choose na$e decide figure find call due to since fair showed shown show tends to ease help reason cause opinion reaction i$ports to

furnish future prospects G generate gi(es consideration to H head up high tech holds a belief I if at all possible i$pacted i$ple$ent in accordance with in addition in an effort to in con5unction with in order to in the near future inception initiate inno(ati(e input J 5oint cooperation 5ust e+actly K L legislation M $a#es an atte$pt $a+i$i7e $ini$i7e $odify N necessary DpreEre*uisites new inno(ations nu$erous O ob5ecti(e opti$u$ output P past e+perience personnel pre1planning prioriti7e prior to pro(ides guidance for possibly $ight postpone until later purpose is to Q *ualified e+pert R Din theE real world

gi(e send prospects do $a#e create considers head Da $ore specific substituteE belie(es if possible affected changed hit carry out do follow by following under also besides too to with to soon start beginning start begin creati(e pioneering in(enti(e co$$ents ad(ice response cooperation e+actly law atte$pts tries increase enlarge e+pand broaden decrease lessen reduce change DpreEre*uisites inno(ations $any $ost ai$ goal best greatest $ost co$$ent idea e+perience people staff planning put in order before guides $ight postpone Ddon3t need itE e+pert in the world in society in business

real1world proble$ refer bac# retain S send a co$$unication to si$ilar to solicit state1of1the1art T try and fi+ U uni*ue utili7e utili7ation V (iable W warrant whereas wide range wide (ariety without further delay with the e+ception of

practical issue business Dor socialE issue or proble$ refer #eep notify li#e as# for latest try to fi+ one1of1a1#ind DliteralE e+citing new unusual Das often usedE use practical wor#able call for per$it since $any range $any (ariety now i$$ediately e+cept for

http://www.cmu.edu/styleguide/capitali ation.html C!P"T!#"$!T"%&


Academ c!De"ree# /se lower case when using bachelor3s $aster3s or doctor3s degree. /se lower case for doctorate or doctoral progra$. Academ c!De$artme%t# "apitali7e the na$es of depart$ents e+cept when used in a person3s title. >ight: Bhe director of ad$ission is pleased with the nu$ber of applicants. /se lower case for the word ;depart$ent; when it stands alone. >ight: She3s been with the depart$ent for three years. >ight: Bhe 2epart$ent of Special A(ents organi7es co$$ence$ent. "apitali7e the field when it3s used to $ean the depart$ent. /se lower case for the field when it3s used in a general sense. >ight: >ight: >ight: >ight: She3s a professor in the 2epart$ent of Physics. She3s a professor in the Physics 2epart$ent. She3s a physics professor. She $a5ored in physics.

Academ c!Ma&'r# /se lower case for $a5ors with the e+ception of languages which are proper nouns. >ight: Cer $a5or is physics. >ight: Ce3s an Anglish $a5or. Addre##e# "apitali7e for$al street na$es but use lower case when used with $ore than one street na$e in te+t. /se lower case when street words stand alone. >ight: 6eet $e at the corner of @orbes and Shady a(enues. >ight: Bhe a(enue is a dangerous street to cross. Adm % #trat (e!O)) ce# "apitali7e the na$es of depart$ents di(isions and offices. /se lower case for the words ;depart$ent ; ;di(ision; or ;office; when they stand alone. "apitali7e the field when it3s used to $ean the depart$ent di(ision or office specifically. 2o not capitali7e the field when it3s used in general. >ight: Ce wor#s in the "ashier3s <ffice.

>ight: >ight: >ight: Wrong:

She wor#s in student affairs. Dthe fieldE She wor#s in the Student -ffairs <ffice. Dthe uni(ersity officeE Ce wor#s in Planning. Dthe uni(ersity officeE Bhe 2i(ision will release its report.

a*m*!+!$*m* /se lower case and periods for ;a.$.; and ;p.$.; A%%,a-!F,%d "apitali7e references to the "arnegie 6ellon -nnual @und. >ight: 2id you contribute to the -nnual @und this yearF >ight: - healthy annual fund helps colleges and uni(ersities support basic progra$$ing. B'ard!')!Tr,#tee# Bhe 0oard of Brustees should be capitali7ed only when referring to "arnegie 6ellon3s board but ;board; by itself is not capitali7ed nor is ;trustees.; >ight: Bhe 0oard of Brustees will $eet in 9o(e$ber. >ight: Bhe board will $eet in 9o(e$ber with $ost trustees attending. B, -d %"# -ll proper na$es of buildings such as /ni(ersity "enter should be capitali7ed. Special building pro5ects such as the West "a$pus Pro5ect should be capitali7ed. Ber$s such as ;north wing; and ;new residence hall; should not be capitali7ed unless they are used in the title. Ce%ter#!a%d!I%#t t,te# Bhe for$al na$es of centers such as the "enter for 4nno(ation in ?earning or the 4nfor$ation 9etwor#ing 4nstitute should be capitali7ed but ;center; by itself should be in lower case. Bhe sa$e rules apply to institutes. >ight: >ight: >ight: >ight: Bhe Software Angineering 4nstitute hosts se$inars. Bhe institute will welco$e do7ens of affiliates. Bhe /ni(ersity "enter opened in 1))%. Bhe center has an indoor pool and a rotunda.

C t e#!a%d!T'.%# /se lower case for general sections of the city but capitali7e widely recogni7ed na$es for city regions. >ight: Bhe $eetings will be downtown. >ight: ?et3s go to a restaurant on the South Side. C-a##e#!a%d!C',r#e# /se lower case when you refer to classes and courses unless you use the specific Dand co$pleteE title or the na$e carries a proper noun or nu$eral. >ight: 4 had a class in industrial $anage$ent. >ight: 43$ ta#ing 4ndustrial 6anage$ent 4. >ight: 43$ ta#ing biology -d(anced Sha#espeare and calculus. C'mme%ceme%t /se lower case for ;co$$ence$ent; in te+t.

C'mm ttee# "apitali7e the for$al na$es of groups and co$$ittees such as @aculty Senate ?ong1>ange Planning "o$$ittee President3s Student -d(isory "ouncil. /se lower case for the words ;co$$ittee; or ;council; when they stand alone. t/e!C,t "apitali7e the ;"; only: the "ut. >ight: Bhe "ut is a great place to play frisbee. >ight: Bhe concert will be on the "ut. Wrong: 6eet $e at Bhe "ut. Dea%0#!L #t -lways use lower case: the dean3s list. Fa1 Bhe suggested way to use this word in a sentence is in lower case. 4f you3re pro(iding a fa+ nu$ber on your business card or in a listing it3s o#ay to use an initial cap. >ight: "all or fa+ $e with the infor$ation. >ight: "arnegie 6ellon Public >elations Phone: 41212%'11),, @a+: 41212%'1%)2) H'mec'm %" /se lower case for ;ho$eco$ing; unless it3s used as a title. H'%'r# /se lower case and italici7e cum laude magna cum laude and summa cum laude. H2$/e%ated!W'rd#! %!T t-e# - general rule of thu$b is to always capitali7e the first unit and capitali7e the second unit if it3s a noun or ad5ecti(e or if it has e*ual balance with the first unit. >ight: ;Bwentieth1"entury Poets in South -$erica; ;"ity1States in 9ineteenth "entury Aurope; ;9on1"hristian >eligions in 9orth -$erica; Bhe second unit should be in lower case if it3s a participle $odifying the first unit or if both units constitute a single word. >ight: ;Anglish1spea#ing People throughout -sia; ;6ediu$1si7ed "o$panies with /nions; ;A1flat 6inor 6elody; ;>e1establishing a Gouthful <utloo#; ;Self1fulfilling Prophecies in S$all1Bown -$erica; G'(er%me%t /se lower case when the word ;federal; is an ad5ecti(e: federal court the federal go(ern$ent. Ma&'r#!a%d!Pr'"ram# /se lower case for $a5ors progra$s speciali7ations or concentrations Dwith the e+ception of languages which are proper nounsE.

>ight: >ight: >ight: >ight:

Ce recei(ed a bachelor of arts degree in history. Ce3ll study history. Ce3s a history $a5or. She3s a Spanish $a5or.

Race "apitali7e na$es of races D-frican -$erican "aucasian -sian 9ati(e -$ericanE but do not capitali7e ;blac#; or ;white; when referring to race. Re" '%# >egion na$es are capitali7ed when they stand alone and are widely understood to designate a specific geographic area. >ight: western Pennsyl(ania >ight: the West "oast the 6idwest >ight: the east coast of @lorida the $idwestern /nited States R''m# "apitali7e only when used with a nu$ber letter or na$e. 4n co$bination with a building na$e use the nu$ber only. >ight: We3ll be in >oo$ 1,,. >ight: We3ll be in the training roo$. >ight: Bhe $o(ie is in 2oherty 211,.

Sea#'%# "apitali7e only when used in a title or as part of a for$al na$e. /se lower case when these words stand alone. >ight: fall se$ester su$$er progra$ >ight: Bhe progra$ started in fall 1)'). >ight: Bhe Spring @ling will be repeated this year. Seme#ter# 2o not capitali7e se$esters in te+t. >ight: Spring "arni(al ta#es place during the spring se$ester= ho$eco$ing occurs in the fall se$ester. S'c a-!Sec,r t2 /se lower case when referring to social security nu$ber. <nly capitali7e references to the Social Security -d$inistration. >ight: @ill in your na$e and social security nu$ber. >ight: Bhe for$s will be forwarded to Social Security. St,de%t!C-a## ) cat '%# 2o not capitali7e ;fresh$an ; ;sopho$ore ; ;5unior ; ;senior ; ;postdoctoral fellow; or ;graduate student.; 0ut do capitali7e as a class designation or for$al title. >ight: Ce3s a senior engineering $a5or. >ight: Bhe Senior "lass gift was the cloc#. T t-e# - person3s title is capitali7ed only when used before the na$e. When using a capitali7ed title i$$ediately before the na$e try to #eep it short. 2o not capitali7e an occupational designation only a true title. 2epart$ent na$es are in lower case in a person3s title. >ight: >ight: >ight: >ight: We $et President "ohon. Bhe president will spea# at the dinner. .ice President for Anroll$ent Willia$ Alliott issued the $e$o. <ur spea#er will be artist Willia$ "ooper.

Bitles following a person3s na$e should appear in lower case. /se lower case when a title is used alone. >ight: Bhe president of "arnegie 6ellon will address the group. >ight: Heff 0olton (ice president for business and planning and chief financial officer will host the reception.

"haired professorships appear in lower case e+cept for the proper na$e. /ni(ersity professorships also use lower case. >ight: -ndres "ardenes the 2orothy >ichard Starling and -le+ander ". Speyer Hr. professor of $usic donated his Stradi(arius (iolin to the School of 6usic in "arnegie 6ellon3s "ollege of @ine -rts. >ight: Cer years of hard wor# were ac#nowledged when she earned the ran# of uni(ersity professor. U% (er# t2 2o not capitali7e the word ;uni(ersity; when it stands alone. >ight: Bhe uni(ersity is highly regarded locally as well as nationally and internationally.

http://www.cmu.edu/styleguide/dates'num(ers.html )!TE*+ &,-.E/*+ P#!CE*


Date#+3ear# When a $onth is used with a specific date use it this way: Han. 1 @eb. 1 6arch 1 -pril 1 6ay 1 Hune 1 Huly 1 -ug. 1 Sept. 1 <ct. 1 9o(. 1 2ec. 1 Spell out the na$e of the $onth when using it alone or with a year alone. When using a $onth and a year only do not separate with co$$as. When a phrase is used with a $onth date and year set both the date and year off with co$$as. >ight: Hanuary 2,,2 >ight: Han. 13 >ight: Han. 13 1)), 2o not use the word ;on; before a date or day of the wee# when its absence would not lead to confusion. >ight: Bhe $eeting will be held 6onday. >ight: Ce will be inaugurated @eb. 22. >ight: Bhe progra$ ends in 2ece$ber. Bo describe se*uences of dates or inclusi(e dates use a hyphen1with no spaces between the hyphen and the characters1instead of the word ;to; or ;through.; >ight: Bhe bo+ office is open 6onday1@riday. >ight: Bhe perfor$ance will run Sept. 14122. 2o not use suffi+es with dates. >ight: <ct. 14 Wrong: <ct. 14th

/se an ;s; without an apostrophe after the year to indicate spans of decades or centuries a plural. /se an apostrophe before the year for class years or abbre(iations to indicate the ;2,; is o$itted. -ny reference to the decades or classes fro$ the 1),,s needs to use the ;1).; >ight: >ight: >ight: Wrong: >ight: Wrong: Bhe uni(ersity was for$ed in the 1)%,s. She belonged to the "lass of 1)24. Shannon will graduate with the "lass of 3,3. Bhe 3%,s were fa$ous for hippies flower power and the peace $o(e$ent. 0lair /nderwood -1)'' was the guest spea#er at co$$ence$ent 2,,,. 0lair /nderwood -3'' spo#e to the graduating class of 2,,,.

-n apostrophe after the year is needed for possessi(es. >ight: Bhe presidential election was 1)',3s biggest news story. Fract '%# Spell out fractions less than one using hyphens between words. /se figures for precise a$ounts larger than one con(erting to deci$als when appropriate. >ight: >ight: Wrong: >ight: one1half two1thirds 1.! liters one and one1half liters '11/2 + 11 9ews

M'%e2 /se the dollar sign and nu$bers. 2o not use a deci$al and two 7eros. >ight: I1!, >ight: I1!,.2! Wrong: I1!,.,, /se the co$$a in dollar a$ounts in the thousands. >ight: I1 ,,, Wrong: I1,,, @or dollar a$ounts beyond thousands use the dollar sign nu$ber and appropriate word. >ight: I14 $illion Wrong: I14 ,,, ,,,

N,m4er# Spell out nu$bers fro$ one to nine. /se nu$erals for all nu$bers 1, and abo(e. A+ceptions are noted below. >ight: >ight: >ight: >ight: nine poodles 1% buildings four $iles Ce teaches ninth grade.

/se figures for ages percentages e*uip$ent specifications page nu$bers and su$s of $oney Dwhen using the sy$bol ;I;E. >ight: She has a daughter 2 and a son '. >ight: ' $egabytes 24, >-6 >ight: -ccording to the cart on page 4 nearly half of the ele$entary1age children in Pittsburgh recei(e a I! wee#ly allowance. -(oid starting a sentence with a nu$ber but if you $ust spell out the nu$ber unless it3s a year. >ight: Bwenty students registered. >ight: 1)14 was an i$portant year. Perce%ta"e# -lways use nu$erals Dincluding the nu$bers 11)E and spell out the word ;percent; in te+t. ;Percent; ta#es a singular (erb when standing alone or when a singular word follows an ;of; construction. /se a plural (erb when a plural word follows an ;of; construction. >ight: >ight: >ight: >ight: <nly ' percent of the class (oted. Ce belie(es !, percent is enough. Ce belie(es %, percent of the $e$bership is co$ing. She belie(es %, percent of the $e$bers are co$ing.

/se the percent sy$bol DJE in charts or figures and in acade$ic statistical or technical writing. Te-e$/'%e!N,m4er# 4f a publication is strictly for use on ca$pus you $ay o$it the area code and first two digits. /se the ;'; or ;2; followed by the four1digit nu$ber. >ight: "all us at '12),,. 4f the publication $ay or will be sent off ca$pus include the area code as part of the co$plete nu$ber. /se a hyphen between the area code and nu$ber. >ight: 41212%'12),, 4f you use $ore than one nu$ber separate with the word ;or; in te+t or with a slash in an address listing. When pro(iding telephone fa+ e$ail (oice$ail cell phone etc. nu$bers in an address listing identify each. >ight: "all $e at 41212%'12),,/%)%3. >ight: Pittsburgh P- 1!21313'), Phone: 41212%'12),,

@a+: 41212%'1%)2) "ell: 41212%'12)&, A$ail: ar3$Kandrew.c$u.edu T me /se lower case with periods for ;a.$.; and ;p.$.; When writing a ti$e that falls on the hour do not use ;:,,.; Si$ply state the hour with ;a.$. ; ;p.$.; or ;o3cloc#.; /se ;noon; and ;$idnight ; ne(er 12 p.$. or 12 a.$. >ight: Wrong: >ight: Wrong: >ight: >ight: 3 p.$. 3:,, p$ 9oon11 p.$. 12 noon Bhe concert begins at ':3, p.$. Bhe concert begins at ' o3cloc#.

http://www.cmu.edu/styleguide/punctuation.html P,&CT,!T"%& P/"-E/


C t25!State Place a co$$a between the city and the state na$e and another co$$a after the state na$e unless ending a sentence. >ight: Wrong: >ight: >ight: Bhey $o(ed fro$ Brenton 9.H. to Pittsburgh Pa. :ansas "ity 6o. is the site of the conference. :ansas "ity 6o. is the site of the conference. Washington 2.". was the destination.

C'-'%#5!Sem c'-'%# /se a colon after an introductory state$ent that uses the words ;as follows; or ;the following.; 2o not use a colon between a (erb or preposition and its direct ob5ect. >ight: >ight: >ight: Bhey as#ed e(eryone: her sister brother cousin and $other. Bhey as#ed others such as her sister brother cousin and $other. Bhey will tal# about the following: D1E ad$issions criteria= D2E financial aid= and D3E student acti(ities. >ight: Bhe topics were leadership $oti(ation enthusias$ and creati(ity. Wrong: Bhe topics were: leadership= $oti(ation= enthusias$= creati(ity. /se a se$icolon to di(ide the two parts of a co$pound sentence Dtwo independent clausesE when the clauses are not connected by a con5unction. >ight: We already recei(ed your report= the follow1up $ailing is not needed. - se$icolon also connects two independent clauses that use a connecting word li#e ;therefore; or ;howe(er.; >ight: We already recei(ed your report= therefore the follow1up $ailing is unnecessary. C'mma# 2o not use a co$$a before ;and; in a si$ple listing. /se a co$$a only if the last ite$ is a co$pound idea that re*uires ;and; as part of the ite$. >ight: Bhe flag of the /nited States is red white and blue. >ight: Bhe restaurant offered panca#es french toast and ha$ and eggs. 2o not use a co$$a before ;Hr.; or ;Sr.; after a person3s na$e. >ight: Hohn S$ith Hr. /se a co$$a to introduce a co$plete one1sentence *uotation within a paragraph. - colon should be used to introduce longer *uotations. >ight: She said ;4 don3t want to go.; >ight: She said: ;4 don3t want to go. 43$ tired. Bhe cat3s sic# and 4 ha(e no interest in post1$odern art.;

2o not use a co$$a at the start of a partial or indirect *uotation. >ight: She said the play ;was the finest dra$a Willia$s wrote.; Wrong: She said the play ;was the finest dra$a Willia$s wrote.; <$it the co$$a before ;of; in writing a person3s na$e and address. >ight: >obert >edford of Sundance /tah Wrong: >obert >edford of Sundance /tah Watch for $issing co$$as. 4f you3re using an interrupti(e clause with a co$$a at the end you3d better chec# and insert the co$$a at the beginning. >ight: Wrong: >ight: >ight: Wrong: >ight: Wrong: >ight: Wrong: Wrong: 2r. "ohon president of "arnegie 6ellon spo#e at the $eeting. 2r. "ohon president of "arnegie 6ellon spo#e at the $eeting. A+ecuti(es such as 6r. 0rown and 6s. S$ith also attended. A+ecuti(es such as 6r. 0rown and 6s. S$ith also attended. A+ecuti(es such as 6r. 0rown and 6s. S$ith also attended. She dro(e fro$ "le(eland <hio to Pittsburgh. She dro(e fro$ "le(eland <hio to Pittsburgh. Bhe car which was sil(er raced down the road. Bhe car which was sil(er raced down the road. Bhe car which was sil(er raced down the road. DSee Bhat/Which on page 31.E

C'm$a%2!Name# /se "o. or "os. when a business uses either word at the end of its proper na$e. 4f ;co$pany; or ;co$panies; appears alone in the second reference spell the word out. @or possessi(es: @ord 6otor "o.3s profits. Spell out the na$es of theatrical organi7ations. 9e(er use a co$$a before 4nc. or ?td.

Da%"- %"!M'd ) er# -(oid dangling or $isplaced ad(erbs or ad5ecti(es. >ight: Wal#ing across the lawn 4 got $ud on $y shoes. Wrong: Wal#ing across the lawn $ud co(ered $y shoes. D4n this construction $ud is wal#ing across the lawn.E Date# <$it co$$a between $onth and year if no date is included. >ight: 2ec. 12 2,,, >ight: 2ece$ber 2,,, H2$/e%at '% 4n general $any two1word phrases are two separate words when used as a noun (erb or ad(erb but ta#e a hyphen when used as an ad5ecti(e. 2ouble chec# the way the wordDsE isDareE being used in your sentence. -s a rule phrases after the (erb are not hyphenated. Bo hyphenate in a series follow this e+a$ple: >ight: Ce wrote 1,1 and 2,1page papers. "larifying co$$on confusions: A all1terrain B bilingual C co1chair co1sponsor coed child care cooperati(e Dad5ecti(eE co1op DnounE course wor# DnounE class wor# DnounE D data base or database Dchoose one and use it consistentlyE decision1$a#er DnounE decision $a#ing D(erbE decision1$a#ing Dad5ecti(eE E e+tracurricular F follow1up full1ti$e e$ployee Dad5ecti(eE she wor#s full ti$e Dad(erbE

fund raising is difficult DnounE the fund1raising ca$paign Dad5ecti(eE We are holding a fund1raiser De(entE Ce is a fund raiser DpersonE I interoffice inter1related L lifestyle long1range Dad5ecti(eE Bhe long1range plans are astounding. long range Dad(erbE Bhe ideas co(er a long range. long1ter$ Dad5ecti(eE Bhe long1ter$ syste$ will be in effect for $any $ore years. long ter$ Dad(erbE Bhe results will be fir$ and long ter$. M $ainfra$e $icroco$puter $ulti$edia $ultipurpose N newly reno(ated Dusually no hyphen with 1ly wordsE nonprofit O on1ca$pus $o(ies Dad5ecti(eE Bhere are $o(ies on ca$pus each wee# Dpreposition and nounE P part1ti$e 5ob Dad5ecti(eE part ti$e is the best option. DnounE percent playoffs pre1application preschool R re1e(aluate reinforce D4n general use a hyphen when the (owel ;e; follows the prefi+ ;re.; Bhere are e+ceptions and additions. "onsult your dictionary to be sureE S se$icolon T ti$e1sharing Dall co$puter1related usesE

V (ice president (ice chair W world1renowned school Dad5ecti(eE Bhe school is world renowned. I%tr'd,ct'r2!P/ra#e# 4ntroductory phrases such as ;?ast year; and ;4n 2,,1; do not re*uire co$$as. >ight: ?ast year the board appro(ed a tuition increase. Wrong: 4n 1))& Hared ?. "ohon was na$ed "arnegie 6ellon3s eighth president. >ight: 4n 1))& Hared ?. "ohon was na$ed "arnegie 6ellon3s eighth president. P,%ct,at '%!Sam$-e#

>ight: Wrong: >ight: >ight: Wrong:

Hoan S$ith president of the group will run the $eeting. Hoan S$ith president of the group will run the $eeting. Ce went to the store which was closed. Ce went to the store that was closed. Ce went to the store which was e$pty. DSee Bhat/Which.E

Q,'te#!a%d!Q,'tat '%# @ollow these rules when using *uotes and *uotation $ar#s: Bhe period and the co$$a always go inside the *uotation $ar#s. >ight: Ce said ;43$ going to the store.; Wrong: Ce said ;43$ going to the store;. >ight: She told us ;stay in school ; which was good ad(ice. Bhe dash the e+cla$ation point and the *uestion $ar# go inside the *uotation $ar#s when they apply to the *uote only. When they apply to the whole sentence they go outside the $ar#s. >ight: >ight: >ight: >ight: Sergeant Par#er ga(e the following order: ;Peel potatoes1then lights outL; Go$er Pyle said ;Golly SergeantL; when he heard the news. @rancis Schaeffer3s boo# as#s ;Cow Shall We Bhen ?i(eF; What did 6artin ?uther :ing $ean when he said ;4 ha(e a drea$;F

9ote: Bhis usage pre(ails in the /nited States. 0ritain and "anada apply different rules. Bhe colon and se$icolon should be placed outside *uotation $ar#s. When $atter ending with one of these punctuation $ar#s is *uoted the colon or se$icolon is dropped. >ight: Bhe president said the plan needed ;a few $inor ad5ust$ents;= howe(er he did not re5ect it entirely. 4n running *uotations each new paragraph should begin with open *uotation $ar#s Dno closing $ar#sE. <nly the final paragraph should contain the closing *uotation $ar#. >ight: Bhe speech was as follows: ;Welco$e ladies and gentle$en. 4 ha(e a few points to $a#e today. Bhe first is to than# you for this honor. 6y acco$plish$ents are noteworthy only in so far as they help to ad(ance this i$portant field of hu$an endea(or.

;Bhe second is to as# you to continue thin#ing about this critical issue. <nly through continued research and e+peri$ental progra$s such as the one you3(e recogni7ed today will we ad(ance our cause and i$pro(e our society. ;@inally let $e as# you to do $ore than turn your $ental energies to this i$portant effort. Gi(e your total energiesMin the for$ of financial support (olunteer ti$e acti(e ad(ocacyM for the sa#e of progress. Bhen we can all share in this special honor. Bhan# you.; When including a *uote or ;highlighted; word inside another *uotation use single *uotes D3E instead of double D;E. >ight: 4n his charge to the co$$ittee the chair said ;4 ha(e often told you 3don3t gi(e up the ship.3 Bhan#s to your efforts we3(e been able to reach our goal.; S$ac %"!at!E%d!')!Se%te%ce /se a single space at the end of a sentence and after a colon. 2ouble spaces date bac# to the days of typewriters when all characters were allotted the sa$e a$ount of space. "o$puteri7ed typesetting ad5usts the spacing for a good fit. A+tra spaces create gaps and loo# unprofessional.

Fr'm!/tt$6++...*#'2',.a%%a*c'm+# te+#2.#+.rerr'r#+.rerr'r#*/tm1. MAKE YOUR SUBJECTS AND VERBS AGREE


The su(0ect in a sentence has to agree with the ver(. This means that the ver( has to (e correctly in1lected 2i.e.+ have the right ending3 to match the su(0ect. 4ou know+ o1 course+ that you mustn't write things like 54ou has to go+5 so we won't (other with the (asics. There is+ however+ an error that you might make without ever noticing+ and you must stop. Take a look at this: 5Pavel .ure is a 1aster skater than him.5 "1 that looks right to you+ you are dead wrong. This is (ecause (oth 5Pavel .ure5 and 5him5 are (oth using the same ver(+ 5is.5 The sentence is a comparison o1 what Pavel .ure and some other shmuck can do+ (ut the second use o1 the ver( is assumed and le1t out. "1 it were included+ the sentence would read like this: 5Pavel .ure is a 1aster skater than him is.5 That would (e so wrong. The correct way to write the phrase is this: 5Pavel .ure is a 1aster skater than he.5 "1 that sounds 1unny to you+ we recommend that you include the second instance o1 the ver(+ i.e.+ 5Pavel .ure is a 1aster skater than he is.5 The wrong way: 5.elinda is prettier than her+5 5We wreck shop at a higher level than them+5 and 56ohn eats more toast than me.5 The right way: 5.elinda is prettier than she+5 5We wreck shop at a higher level than they do+5 and 56ohn eats more toast than ".5 People make this error so o1ten that it's di11icult to keep it out o1 your speech+ (ut i1 you're care1ul you can eliminate it 1rom your writing and give your critics one less reason to smirk.

2. MAKE PRONOUNS AND ANTECEDENTS AGREE


! pronoun is a word which re1ers to a su(0ect or o(0ect which has already (een identi1ied. The antecedent is the word which is (eing re1erred to (y the pronoun. 7or e8ample: 5When you use an antecedent in the 1irst clause o1 a sentence+ you can re1er to it with the pronoun 9it' in the second clause o1 the sentence.5 Pronouns are great things+ as speech would (e un(elieva(ly tedious without them. Pronouns must+ however+ agree with their antecedents in num(er and gender+ and many people are not care1ul enough a(out this. The most common error is to use the pronoun 5they5 to re1er to a singular antecedent. .ad: 5"1 you go and talk to a grammarian+ they will say that you are dead wrong when you use 9they' as a singular antecedent.5 -any people make the 1oregoing mistake (ecause they do not wish to use a gender:speci1ic pronoun. We do not have a gender:neutral pronoun in English+ so when we re1er to an antecedent whose gender is unknown we must either use the old method and use 5he5 or we must say 5he or she.5 *ome people recommend alternating 5he5 and 5she5 as gender:neutral pronouns within a piece o1 writing+ (ut we think this is rather contrived. 2When 1eeling trendy+ we use 52s3he+5 (ut we have heard this horri1ies old school grammarians+ so do so at your own risk.3 To use 5they5 with a singular antecedent is simply incorrect+ (ecause it does not agree in num(er with the noun to which it re1ers. Wrong 5"1 you meet a snake:charmer on the road+ tell them that you'll have none o1 their nonsense.5 5" spoke to some(ody at the o11ice+ (ut they couldn't help.5

Right 5"1 you meet a snake:charmer on the road+ tell him or her that you'll have none o1 his or her nonsense.5 5" spoke to some(ody at the o11ice+ (ut she couldn't help.5 2"n the latter case+ since the writer spoke to the 5some(ody+5 the gender is pro(a(ly known and there1ore it should (e speci1ied.3

3. DON T M!SUSE APOSTOP"ES


!postrophes indicate possession and 1orm contractions. That's it. What part o1 that is unclear; !pparently+ the use o1 apostrophes is e8tremely con1using to many people. What does 5C)'s5 mean to you; "1 you answered 5"t is the plural o1 C)+5 you are dead wrong. 5C)'s5 indicates that something (elongs to the C)+ as in 5The C)'s case was eaten (y a goat.5 The plural o1 C) is 5C)s.5 We don't understand when people (egan using apostrophes to plurali e nouns+ (ut we see signs reading 5)river's wanted5 and other such nonsense all the time. We heard+ to our dismay+ that The New York Times recently used 5the <='s5 in a headline. "ndicating the plural o1 a decade using an apostrophe 2e.g.+ 5>='s5 instead o1 5>=s5 or 5seventies53 is one o1 the most common apostrophe errors. We don't care what The New York Times thinks? it's 0ust plain wrong. "1 you use apostrophes in this manner you must stop doing so immediately. @ere are the right ways to use apostrophes: U#$ %&o#tro&h$# to in'i(%t$ &o##$##ion When you want to indicate possession with a singular noun+ whether it ends in an 5s5 or not+ you add an apostrophe and an 5s5 on the end. 7or e8ample: 5the midget's pathos+5 5the pathos's source5 and 5the source's nature.5 The only e8ception to this is the word 5it+5 with which you indicate possession (y adding an 5s5 alone 2i.e.+ 5its53+ (ecause the word 5it's5 is a contraction meaning 5it is.5 When you want to indicate possession with a plural noun which ends in any letter other than 5s+5 you add an apostrophe and an 5s5 on the end. 7or e8ample: 5the people's champion+5 5the hippopotami's e8crement+5 and 5the geese's ha(itat.5 When you want to indicate possession with a plural noun which ends in 5s+5 you add an apostrophe on the end. 7or e8ample: 5the peoples' champions+5 5the de(utantes' routine+5 and 5the undergarments' impenetra(ility.5 That's all there is to say a(out indicating possession with apostrophes. U#$ %&o#tro&h$# to )or* (ontr%(tion# !postrophes are also used to 1orm contractions. We are told that contractions were invented (y sign: painters (ack in the olden days (ecause they kept running out o1 room or paint when they were plying their trade. -any commentators suggest that contractions should not ever (e used in writing+ (ecause they are too in1ormal. We think that contractions are 1ine in in1ormal writing or when it is necessary to convey a conversational tone+ (ut we'll leave it up to you. The important thing is that you understand that contractions are the only other use 1or apostrophes. 7or e8ample: 5you can't so don't+5 5they're wrong+5 and 5it's incorrect to use apostrophes 1or anything other than indicating possession or 1orming a contraction.5 When can you use an apostrophe to indicate that a noun is plural; &ever. We hope that's clear.

+. DON T USE NOUNS AS VERBS

,oo- %t th$#$ $.%*&/$# This is a tricky su(0ect+ (ecause no(ody seems to agree on which words are 0ust nouns and which ones are nouns and ver(s. The truth is that language evolves and words which once were used only as nouns (egin (eing used as ver(s. The hy(rid ver(s o1ten descri(e the action o1 (eing or o(taining the o(0ect descri(ed (y the noun. *ome e8amples o1 nouns which are used as ver(s are: 5contact+5 5impact+5 51ocus+5 5parent+5 5medal+5 and 5liaison.5 6ust to take the guesswork out o1 it+ we will tell you what the ver(:1orms o1 these nouns are supposed to mean+ which ones you may and may not use+ and why you may or may not use them. Cont%(t: To esta(lish contact with something else. 4ou may use this noun as a ver(+ (ecause it is so prevalent that you'll end up sounding very strange i1 you don't use it. !*&%(t: To make or have an impact on something. 4ou may not use this noun as a ver(. "t sounds horri(ly clumsy and many people 1ind its use as a ver( aesthetically o11ensive. 4ou have (een warned. 0o(1#: To narrow or clari1y one's 1igurative 1ocus to concentrate on a particular point. 4ou may use this noun as a ver(. %nce again+ it's 0ust so common that you might as well (ow to the mindless masses. P%r$nt: To (ehave as a parent would. 4ou may not use this noun as a ver(. This is 0ust la iness+ and it sounds so idiotically new:age that it makes us ill. M$'%/: To receive a medal+ usually in the %lympics. %1 course you may not use this noun as a ver(. @ow horri(le. ,i%i#on: To attend a liaison. 4ou may use this noun as a ver(. The military uses it e8tensively+ and its mem(ers will not listen to us no matter what we say. "t is also an anglici ed noun 1rom 7rench+ so what harm will a little more tinkering do to it; U#$ 2o1r 31'g*$nt -odern dictionaries+ particularly the -erriam We(ster dictionary 2http://www.m:w.com/dictionary.htm3+ will tell you that it is all right to use words 0ust a(out any way you might ever imagine. This is (ecause they su11er 1rom *amuel 6ohnson's 1ear o1 missing some word or use o1 a word in their attempts to (e comprehensive. "t is per1ectly accepta(le 1or you to disagree with the writers o1 dictionaries and say 56ust (ecause some idiot thinks it's okay to use 9medal' as a ver( doesn't mean "'m going to 0oin in.5 "1 you look at a dictionary entry care1ully+ you'll o1ten see that the word you're looking at was used e8clusively as a noun up until 1ABC or something like that. This is a good sign that only those with no taste would use the noun as a ver(. %1 the a(ove e8amples+ we only use 5contact5 as a ver(+ and we only use that (ecause o1 pressure 1rom past employers and pro1essors. 4ou might choose to (e less sensitive to this issue than we are+ (ut you'd (etter hope your written work is never evaluated (y someone who agrees with us.

4. USE S!M!,AR WORDS CORRECT,Y


There are many words which sound or look similar+ (ut which have di11erent meanings or go with di11erent words. *ome o1 the di11erences are simple and some are comple8+ (ut we will e8plain them all so that you can use the words properly. 1. U#$ 5%))$(t5 %n' 5$))$(t5 (orr$(t/2 5!11ect5 is a ver( which means to in1luence something 2e.g.+ 5The wind a11ected the kite:1lying53+ or to attempt to convey something untrue or misleading 2e.g.+ 5@e tried to a11ect an English accent53.

5E11ect5 is a noun which re1ers to the result o1 some antecedent cause 2e.g.+ 5The aphrodisiac had a di ying e11ect5 or 5The e11ect o1 the crash was an e8ploding school:(us53+ or it can (e a ver( which means to (ring a(out 2e.g.+ 5The corporate raiders e11ected a hostile takeover o1 the de1enseless startup company53. The use o1 5e11ect5 as a ver( is what causes the most con1usion with these words. 6ust remem(er: 5a11ect5 D to in1luence+ and 5e11ect5 D to (ring a(out. We can a11ect you with our (ad singing 2(y irritating you3 and we can a11ect a *pice Eirls impersonation with our (ad singing 2(y posing as a group who can sing3+ (ut we cannot e11ect either you or the *pice Eirls with our singing (ecause our singing has nothing to do with (ringing a(out 213 your e8istence+ or 2F3 the e8istence o1 the *pice Eirls. We hope that's clear. U#$ 5th1#5 %n' 5th$r$)or$5 (orr$(t/2 People mi8 these up all the time. There1ore+ you can stand out as a smarty:pants i1 you avoid messing them up. 5Thus5 primarily means 5like this/that5 or 5in this/that manner+5 while 5there1ore5 primarily means 5(ecause o1 the 1oregoing+ this 1ollows.5 "t is 1ar more common to see people using 5thus5 where they should use 5there1ore5 than it is to see the opposite. @ere are some e8amples: Wrong 5" am a goat. Thus+ " am not a human.5 5We tied planks o1 wood together with vines and tree (ranches. There1ore+ we e11ected a ra1t.5 5Water is not an element? rather+ it is a com(ination o1 elements. Thus+ almost every use o1 the word 'elemental' throughout history has (een incorrect.5 Right 5" am a goat. There1ore+ " am not a human.5 5We tied planks o1 wood together with vines and tree (ranches. Thus+ we e11ected a ra1t.5 5Water is not an element? rather+ it is a com(ination o1 elements. There1ore+ almost every use o1 the word 'elemental' throughout history has (een incorrect.5 U#$ 5$.g.5 %n' 5i.$.5 (orr$(t/2 7inally+ 0ust to set the record straight+ 5i.e.5 means 5that is5 and 5e.g5 means 51or e8ample.5 4ou don't care which #atin words the letters stand 1or and we don't remem(er. 6ust take our word 1or it. 7or e8ample: 5We asked the human pustule+ i.e.+ 6erry's cousin+ to keep his distance 1rom our pi a+5 5The continents are made up o1 various layers o1 rock+ e.g.+ granite and (asalt+5 and 5"t was inappropriate 1or the (est man+ i.e.+ you+ to make comments a(out various aspects o1 the groom's past+ e.g.+ the drugs+ the gam(ling+ the whoring+ and the war crimes.5 "n order to make sure you don't make errors with these two pesky little a((reviations+ 0ust say 5that is5 in your head whenever you write 5i.e.5 and 51or e8ample5 i1 5e.g.5 is what you want to write. That way you won't mess up unless you have the ".G. o1 a vegeta(le+ e.g.+ a potato+ in which case we can't help you much.

6. DON T SP,!T !N0!N!T!VES


The in1initive 1orm o1 a ver( is 0ust the action that the ver( descri(es. -ost ver( 1orms need to (e in1lected 2i.e.+ the ver( needs to have something added to the end like an 5s+5 an 5ed+5 an 5es+5 etc.3 (ased on the person or persons who are doing it+ when it was done+ whether it was actually done or 0ust might have (een

done+ etc. #ike we said+ we're not going to lay out a whole 1rickin' grammar te8t(ook 1or you. The important point is that the in1initive 1orm doesn't make re1erence to who does it or anything else. "t is 0ust the word 5to5 and the ver( root. 7or e8ample: 5to eat+5 5to sleep+5 5to drink+5 and 5to prestidigitate.5 &ow that we know what an in1initive 1orm is+ we need to insist that the in1initive 1orm o1 the ver( should (e treated as i1 it were one word instead o1 two. "t is a 1orm o1 a ver(+ 0ust like 5ate+5 5slept+5 5drank+5 or 5prestidigitated.5 "t is incorrect to monkey a(out with this poor ver( 1orm and to split it up (y putting e8tra words in (etween the 5to5 and the ver( root. *orry+ trekkies: 5to (oldly go5 0ust ain't right. -ost o1 our grammar is inherited 1rom #atin+ and the in1initives in #atin are one:word 2e.g.+ 5comprendere+5 51acire+5 and 5manere53. We don't know why we ended up with two:word in1initives+ (ut we don't think it's 1air to go taking li(erties with our in1initives 0ust (ecause they seem vulnera(le. Eo ahead and say whatever you like+ (ut don't write 5to 1astidiously sharpen+5 5to assiduously manipulate+5 5to ever so slightly dislodge+5 or anything o1 the sort. We should note here that we have heard that the latest edition o1 the Oxford English Dictionary+ o1 all sources+ has declared that split in1initives are no longer incorrect. We don't know where it gets o11 saying that+ and we hope it was that e8ecra(le Oxford Dictionary of New Words + instead o1 the good old OED+ (ut we are too scared to look. "t seems that some people think they can make up the rules o1 grammar as they go along. We see no good reason to stop treating the in1initive 1orm with respect and to place modi1iers either (e1ore or a1ter the two words which make up the ver(. 7or e8ample 5to sharpen 1astidiously+5 or 5to manipulate assiduously+5 or 5ever so slightly to dislodge.5 The important thing 1or you to remem(er is that there are many people+ not all o1 whom are wearing smoking 0ackets and staring through (leary eyes at paintings o1 their clu(s' 1ounders+ who will think that you don't know any (etter i1 you split your in1initives. We wince whenever we see a split in1initive in a news article or essay+ and we don't even own smoking 0ackets or (elong to clu(s 2yet3. 4ou 0ust never know when someone who cares is going to see your writing and think ill o1 you.

7. STOP M!SUS!NG 5"OPE0U,,Y5


What does the word 5hope1ully5 mean to you; "1 you answered that it means 5"t is to (e hoped+5 you are dead wrong. 5@ope1ully5 is an adver( which descri(es the manner o1 someone who is hope1ul. 7or e8ample: 5When he heard the ipper opening+ !ntoine looked around hope1ully.5 "t is incorrect to (egin sentences with 5hope1ully5 and then state something that you hope. 7or e8ample: 5@ope1ully+ people won't think "'m a goo1 even though " keep making this stupid error.5 )on't do that. "nstead+ say 5" am hope1ul that+5 5" hope that+5 or even 5"t is to (e hoped.5 We're not kidding. 4ou really have to stop.

http://www.sfwa.org/writing/mistakes.htm

S'me!C'mm'%!M #take#
A%d!H'.!t'!A(' d!T/em 42!Me- #a!M c/ae-#
The !postrophe Phrase -atching *pelling "denti1ying 4our Pronouns .eing Consistent

T/e!A$'#tr'$/e6!W/e%!I%!D',4t5!Lea(e!It!O,t The omitted apostrophe con1uses meaning less o1ten than the needless one does. "1 " write a note to tell you+ 5This is 6anes dog+5 you'll likely know " mean to let you know the dog (elongs to 6ane. "1 " write instead+ 56ane's 1riend's are writer's+5 and you know anything a(out the punctuation o1 English+ you will (e in some con1usion as to what (elongs to whom. "n general+ the apostrophe means one o1 two things. 1. There is a missing letter where it is. 7or e8ample+ in 5don't5 there is a missing 5o5? in 5it's5 there is a missing 5i5: each o1 these is a one:word contraction commonly used to represent two words. 5)on't5 means 5do not+5 and 5it's5 means 5it is.5 *omething (elongs to someone. 7or e8ample+ 56ane's dog5 means the dog (elongs to 6ane. 57red's house5 means the house (elongs to 7red 2or at least that he lives in it3. !postrophe:* is used to indicate possession.

F.

,n1ortunately+ num(er F a(ove presents a pro(lem when a thing (elongs to a thing. "1 we want to say+ 5The (o8 has its la(el now+5 shouldn't we use 5it's5 to show possession; The answer is most emphatically no+ we should not. 5"t's5 means 5it is.5 "t never means 5(elonging to it.5 !nd here " present you with a writerly secret a(out apostrophes: i1 the reader sees none where there should (e one+ she will imagine you've dropped it (y accident+ and that the result is a typographical error 2a 5tyop53 rather than an indication o1 ignorance. .ut i1 she sees an apostrophe where there should (e none+ she is unlikely to imagine that you added it (y accident. Even i1 in this one case you really did hit that key without noticing+ your reader is going to assume that you did it deli(erately+ in ignorance. "t is a sad truth a(out readers. !s a result+ you're much sa1er i1 you 1ollow the apostrophe rule: 8h$n in 'o19t: /$%;$ it o1t. P/ra#e7Matc/ %" A!$art c $ a-!$/ra#e!at!t/e!4e" %% %"!')!a!#e%te%ce!m,#t!re)er!t'!t/e!"rammat ca-!#,4&ect* #uckily this rather daunting in0unction is simpler than it sounds. !n e8ample 1rom *trunk's The Elements of Style

Walking slowly down the road+ he saw a woman accompanied (y two children. The word walking re1ers to the su(0ect o1 the sentence+ not to the woman. "1 the writer wishes to make it re1er to the woman+ he must recast the sentence. @e saw a woman+ accompanied (y two children+ walking slowly down the road. *trunk considers this e8ample adeHuate+ and perhaps it is. Even without an understanding o1 5participial phrases5 and 5grammatical su(0ects+5 you should (e a(le with moderate e11ort to e8tend this logic to other+ similar sentences. The ne8t rule contains even more daunting terms: P%rti(i&i%/ &hr%#$# &r$($'$' 92 % (on31n(tion or 92 % &r$&o#ition: no1n# in %&&o#ition: %'3$(ti;$#: %n' %'3$(ti;$ &hr%#$# (o*$ 1n'$r th$ #%*$ r1/$ i) th$2 9$gin th$ #$nt$n($. "1 you don't know what those terms mean+ you should still (e a(le to see (y e8ample what is meant. Wrong %n arriving in Chicago+ his 1riends met him at the station. !etter %n arriving in Chicago+ he was met at the station (y his 1riends. Wrong ! writer o1 popular sel1:help (ooks+ they hired her to write their company manual. !etter ! writer o1 popular sel1:help (ooks+ she was hired to write the company manual. Wrong "ne8perienced as he was+ it sounded easy to write a (ook. !etter "ne8perienced as he was+ he thought writing a (ook would (e easy. *entences that violate these rules are o1ten ludicrous: .eing weather:damaged and (adly in1ested with termites+ " was a(le to (uy the house at Huite a low price. Wondering which way to turn+ a (ird soiled my hat. !s a writer o1 popular romances+ his computer was Huite 1ast. S$e-- %" "1 your word processor has a spell:checker+ use it. .e aware+ however+ that spell:checkers can only determine whether words are spelled correctly. They cannot determine whether the word in Huestion is the one wanted. 7or e8ample+ had " written 5they cannot determine weather the word I is the one wanted+5 a spell:checker would not have 1lagged it (ecause+ although 5weather5 was Huite the wrong word+ it was spelled correctly. "t is there1ore necessary not only to spell:check (y hand+ (ut also to know more than your computer does a(out which word you wanted. ! hardcopy dictionary is essential. "1 you know there are other words that sound like the one you used+ it's a good idea to look them up+ to make sure you selected the right one. )id you say 5they're5 or 5there5 when you meant 5their5; What a(out two+ too+ and to::have you used the right one; )o you know how to decide which o1 5you're5 and 5your5 and 5yore5 you want; )epending on your regional accent+ the words within these groups may sound identical. @ave you really selected the correct one; )o you know how to tell;

! dictionary will help in every case. "1 you look up the word you selected and the meaning turns out to (e Huite di11erent 1rom what you intended+ look up similar:sounding words until you 1ind the one you wanted. 4ou may (e surprised how many words are commonly used incorrectly or mistaken 1or each other in speech. Ide%t )2 %"!3',r!Pr'%',%# 7red went to his (rother's house to get his hat. Whose hat is that; Can you tell 1rom that sentence; " can't: the hat could (elong to either 7red or his (rother+ or even to someone else entirely. !ll we know is that it (elongs to someone male. *ometimes it 1eels awkward to identi1y a pronoun. "n the a(ove e8ample neither 57red went to his (rother's house to get 7red's hat5 nor 57red went to his (rother's house to get his (rother's hat5 sounds Huite as satis1actory as the original. 4et you do want your reader to know 0ust whose hat it is? otherwise she may 1uss a(out it so much she doesn't en0oy the rest o1 your story. /eaders are like that. The solution is to recast the sentence: 7red went to his (rother's house to get the hat he le1t there the previous day. This is still mildly am(iguous+ (ut will (e understood in conte8t. The pro(a(ility that it is 7red's hat is increased. %r i1 the hat (elongs to the (rother+ you could say+ 7red went to his (rother's house to (orrow a hat 1or the party. "t could (e that 7red's (rother keeps a house1ul o1 hats (elonging to persons we have not met+ (ut very likely he does not+ and the hat in Huestion actually (elongs to him. This sort o1 thing is important to the reader. "1 she is le1t in dou(t as to whose a hat is+ she will all too o1ten keep worrying the pro(lem long a1ter a more rational (eing might have gone on to something else. What's worse+ she'll (ring it up again and again at the most inopportune moments+ reminding anyone who'll listen that she was le1t in dou(t in the middle o1 your (ook 2she may make it sound as (ad as having (een le1t without water in the middle o1 a desert3 as to the ownership o1 a hat. 7ar (etter simply to tell her at the 1irst mention o1 it that the hat is 7red's+ or you may never hear the end o1 it. &o(ody wants to spend her entire literary career worrying a(out 7red's hat. Be %"!C'%# #te%t &ow that we have settled this pesky matter o1 the hat " 1eel com1orta(le mentioning that although the reader o1ten seems to have only the 1railest grasp o1 what's going on and there1ore needs every clue possi(le to stay a(reast o1 the 1ictional situation+ it is unwise to assume that he or she will overlook the smallest discrepancy in your logic. Perhaps you think that the person who could not tell that was 7red's hat you were talking a(out will not notice that 7red lived on Elm *treet at the (eginning o1 your novel and yet goes home to Ellis *treet at the end with never a change o1 address mentioned in (etween. &ot so. /eaders will notice the oddest things.

"1 your protagonist puts down her (laster on page one+ walks away 1rom it+ and yet has it handy in her holster to shoot another villain on page three+ your reader will (e testy a(out it. "1 your protagonist has (lue eyes and yellow hair on page 1orty:two+ (ut has (ecome a (rown:eyed (runette (y page ninety:eight+ your reader will very likely (e ve8ed. There are a great many ha ards in the path o1 a (eginning writer that " have not even mentioned+ and seemingly endless skills you will need to acHuire. !nd when you have mastered them all+ you will (e le1t alone with that shockingly dense and perversely astute creature called 5the reader+5 who cannot (e trusted to divine the ownership o1 a hat (ut will relentlessly e8amine your every apostrophe 1or its purpose+ meaning+ and need1ulness. That creature is the one to whom you are telling your stories. That is your audience+ and it can (e appeased only with the greatest o1 care and attention to detail. "t will notice when you change tenses in mid:sentence. "t will snarl when you change points o1 view without warning or e8planation. "t will show its teeth when you con1use it+ and it will (e easily con1used I e8cept when you want it con1used so it won't notice prestidigitation. Then it will remain stead1astly alert and attentive despite your (est e11orts to (ludgeon it into insensi(ility. That is the nature o1 the (east. 7ortunately it is willing+ even eager+ to (e amused. "1 you have done your research+ mastered the tools o1 your trade+ e8ercised all the skill at your command+ and (een consistent in your choices+ you may please it. -elisa -ichaels is the author o1 the science 1iction novels Skirmish+ "irst !attle+ #ast War+ $irate $rince+ "loater "actor+ and "ar %ar&or+ the 1antasy novel 'old (ron+ and the mystery novel Thro)gh the Eyes of the Dead. )istri(ution o1 this article is encouraged as long as it is kept intact and proper credit is given. T/ #!$a"e!.a#!-a#t!m'd ) ed!'%!T,e#da2!Ja%,ar2!89!:88;*

/tt$6++...* -#t,*ed,+<&/ka/%+.r t %"*/tmC'mm'%!M #take#!')!E%"- #/!Grammar5!Mec/a% c#5!a%d!P,%ct,at '%

Dr. J$))r$2 K%hn: !//inoi# St%t$ Uni;$r#it2


The 1ollowing illustrate some common mistakes made in papers written (y college students. This is (y no means an e8haustive list o1 all o1 the mistakes that could (e made with respect to grammar+ mechanics+ and punctuation. /ather+ this is a list o1 some o1 the more common mistakes that occur. A;oi' 1#ing #$.i#t 8or'ing: #1(h %# 5h$5 or 5hi#5 8h$n 2o1 %r$ tr2ing to r$)$r to 9oth 9o2# %n' gir/# or to 9oth 8o*$n %n' *$n. Wrong: When the s)&*ect reported &eing finished+ the experimenter asked him to complete a second ,)estionnaire. /ight: When the s)&*ect reported &eing finished+ the experimenter administered a second ,)estionnaire.

Do not (o*9in$ #ing1/%r %n' &/1r%/ )or*# o) 8or'# in th$ #%*$ #$nt$n($. Wrong: Each s)&*ect rated their own mood on the ,)estionnaire. /ight: Each s)&*ect rated his or her own mood on the ,)estionnaire. /ight: -ll s)&*ects rated their own moods on the ,)estionnaire.

Wrong: - variety of iss)es were presented at the meeting. /ight: - variety of iss)es was presented at the meeting.

U#$ (o**%# 8h$n %&&ro&ri%t$. So*$ti*$# % (o**% #ho1/' 9$ o*itt$': 8h$r$%# oth$r ti*$# in(/1'ing % (o**% *%2 h$/& to i*&ro;$ 2o1r 8riting. U#$ % (o**% 8h$n #$&%r%ting *%in (/%1#$#< Wrong: We are here on this planet once and we might as well get a feel for the place. /ight: We are here on this planet once+ and we might as well get a feel for the place.

S$t o)) &%r$nth$ti(%/ *%t$ri%/ 8ithin (o**%#. Wrong: Sometimes people gossip as !ar&ara Walters has o&served &eca)se they want to &e interesting. /ight: Sometimes people gossip+ as !ar&ara Walters has o&served+ &eca)se they want to &e interesting.

A;oi' 1nn$($##%r2 (o**%#. Wrong: The facts were selected+ and organi.ed with care. /ight: The facts were selected and organi.ed with care.

Wrong: The -ir "orce de&)nked /"O sightings+ &)t+ millions of -mericans didn0t listen. /ight: The -ir "orce de&)nked /"O sightings+ &)t millions of -mericans didn0t listen.

Do not 8rit$ )r%g*$nt$' #$nt$n($#. E;$r2 #$nt$n($ n$$'# % #193$(t %n' % &r$'i(%t$. Wrong: -nd for days tried to change my mind. 2no su(0ect3 /ight: "or days he1she1it tried to change my mind.

Do not (on)1#$ 5it#5 %n' 5it #.5 5!t#5 i# th$ &o##$##i;$ )or* o) 5it:5 8h$r$%# 5it #5 i# % (ontr%(tion )or 5it i#.5 Wrong: (ts time for a change. /ight: (t0s time for a change.

Wrong: What is it0s p)rpose2 /ight: What is its p)rpose2

Do not (on)1#$ 5$))$(t5 %n' 5%))$(t.5 5E))$(t5 i# t2&i(%//2 % no1n: *$%ning #o*$ (on#$=1$n($ or r$#1/t. 5A))$(t5 i# t2&i(%//2 % ;$r9: *$%ning to 9ring %9o1t %n $))$(t. >B1t not$ th%t 5%))$(t5 %/#o (%n 9$ % no1n *$%ning $*otion%/ $.&r$##ion: %n' 5$))$(t5 (%n 9$ 1#$' %# % ;$r9 to *$%n to (%1#$ #o*$thing to (o*$ into 9$ing.? Wrong: The experimental manip)lation ca)sed an interesting affect. /ight: The experimental manip)lation ca)sed an interesting effect.

Wrong: The intervention did not effect the &ehavior of the therapy gro)p. /ight: The intervention did not affect the &ehavior of the therapy gro)p.

U#$ %&o#tro&h$# in th$ %&&ro&ri%t$ &/%($ to in'i(%t$ &o##$##ion. A 8or' $n'ing in 5#5 h%# %n %&o#tro&h$ %t th$ $n' o) th$ 8or'@ oth$r8i#$: &/%($ %n %&o#tro&h$ )o//o8$' 92 5#5 to in'i(%t$ &o##$##ion.

Wrong: The st)dent0s fac)lty advisor was very committed to their learning. /ight: The st)dents0 fac)lty advisor was very committed to their learning. 2i1 more than one student3 /ight: The st)dent0s fac)lty advisor was very committed to her learning. 2i1 only one 1emale student3

Do not 1#$ %n %&o#tro&h$ to in'i(%t$ % &/1r%/ )or* o) % 8or'. On/2 1#$ it to in'i(%t$ &o##$##ion. Wrong: The st)dent0s all have &)sy sched)les. /ight: The st)dents all have &)sy sched)les.

U#$ % h2&h$n 8h$n 1#ing t8o 8or'# to %(t %# on$ %'3$(ti;$ >1n/$## th$ )ir#t 8or' $n'# in -ly?. Wrong: The college st)dent sample was smarter than the high school sample. /ight: The college3st)dent sample was smarter than the high3school sample.

Wrong: - completely3new prod)ct was p)t on the market today. /ight: - completely new prod)ct was p)t on the market today.