And I Quote

The only American thing to do is use double quotation marks. Single quotes are for the British. American punctuation rules stipulate that the only time to surround a word with single quote marks is if the text is already within double quote marks. BY WHICH I MEAN: “The American editor told me, ‘The British have … Continue reading

Clarity Trumps Conciseness

Don’t let conciseness get in the way of clarity. Often, a neat trick to pare down a sentence is to take a descriptive clause, turn it into a tidy little modifier, and tuck it in front of a noun. Say what? LOOSE: The company, which is based in Roanoke, was founded in 1978. TIGHT: The … Continue reading

Monday Quickies

The preferred spelling is ambience, not ambiance. When you place it before a noun, the phrase is written multimillion-dollar (note hyphen usage). The phrase period of time can be shortened to time in every instance.

The Right Seasoning

The name of the season will suffice. WORDY: Setting your heat lower during the winter months will save you money. CONCISE: Setting your heat lower during the winter will save you money.

Numbers, Like Words, Matter

Writing with exactness is crucial when you’re working with numbers. As written on the screen, the phrase between $120 and $130 millon means just that: the lowest figure is $120 and the highest figure is $130 million. But if each figure is actually in the millions, you need to write between $120 million and $130 … Continue reading

Evaluate Your Logic

When critically reading what you’ve written, consider if each statement works when put through its logical paces. THINK ABOUT IT: Unlike other towns, there was no bakery serving croissants in Portland. The writer could probably get away with this sentence, but it will annoy a careful reader. It can be taken to mean: “Other towns … Continue reading

Write It Once

Don’t repeat an idea within a sentence. If a single word conveys something, there’s no need to also insert a phrase that acts as a redundancy or overly apparent definition. NO KIDDING: There are requirements that must be met to work directly with the major casinos. BETTER: There are requirements for working directly with the … Continue reading