Keep It Together

When writing that something is whole or unimpaired, keep the word itself together and write intact. It’s a common error to write in tact. Advertisements

TWG’s Hall of Ugliness

Some words are too ugly for your readers’ eyes, even when they are used correctly. As we come across these offenders, we will induct them into The Writing Guide’s Hall of Ugliness. The initial inductee into the HOU is liaise. Merriam-Webster defines the intransitive verb this way: “chiefly British 1: to establish liaison 2: to … Continue reading

What Makes a Good List

Sometimes a list is better represented when each item is put on its own line and is preceded by a bullet point. The list might be too complex to run together, or an itemized layout might better serve the reader. I’m a big fan of bullet lists. Here are a few thoughts on assembling a … Continue reading

Prepositions, Verbs and Meaning

I was momentarily tripped up yesterday while reading this excellent piece in the Los Angeles Times about how Mideast reform activists are trying to use social networks as organizing tools. Does this line confuse you, too? OR IS IT JUST ME? Egyptian activists, for example, have called for rallies and strikes on Internet social networks … Continue reading

Monty Python and the Joy of Tone

I recently wrote about tone and how the feel of a word is just as important as its definition when judging whether to use it in a sentence. My first lesson in tone came from this brilliant Monty Python sketch (slight warning: it’s a bit NSFW at the end). The absurdist joke that the whole … Continue reading

Spot the Typo

Can you find the minor error in this L.A. Times column? (Good column, by the way. I officially have Iranian election fever!)

Time Notes

A trio of tips about time to get you over the hump: You don’t need :00 for a top-of-the-hour time (4 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m.). When noting a time range that occurs wholly within a.m. or p.m., you need that designation only once (1 to 4 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). … Continue reading

Meaning Matters

Write with exactness; write exactly what you mean to convey. As I’ve noted before, the rules of communication are more lax when you’re speaking. But your reader only has the words on the screen. There are no other signals to give added context. With that in mind, drive out all ambiguity from your writing. THINK … Continue reading

Regarding “Myriad”

Until about 10 seconds ago, I thought I knew all there was to know about myriad. I thought the word was an adjective and not a noun, and that people who said, “There are a myriad of reasons why I won’t go to the festival,” were plain wrong in their usage. It turns out that … Continue reading

The Definition of Is

Is is a verb. I mention this simple fact not to offer a point of departure for a conversation about the nature of being and verbs, but only to make this reminder: When is is mentioned in a composition title (the names of books, movies, albums, etc.), it must be capitalized. Ex. The Heart Is … Continue reading