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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Editing Tip

Posted on Friday, July 18, 2008, at 10:35 am

Let’s visit the terms editing, proofreading, and formatting. Focus on editing first, checking the content for cohesiveness, clarity, paragraph structure, and overall structure. When you’re satisfied with the content, focus on proofreading, looking for consistency in formatting, margins, text styles, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Finally, focus on formatting, ensuring consistency in the document’s appearance. Within …

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Exclamation Points with Quotation Marks

Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2008, at 3:59 pm

How do you punctuate if something in quotes ends in a necessary exclamation point or question mark but the sentence continues? The Chicago Manual of Style offers this example: Tichnick’s angry reply, “I do not know the man!” took us all by surprise. Note the comma after reply but no comma after the exclamation point.

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Compel vs. Impel

Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2008, at 12:31 am

Both compel and impel contain the idea of using physical or other force to cause something to be done. Compel means to constrain someone in some way to yield or do what one wishes. Examples: to compel a debtor to pay Fate compels us to face danger and trouble. Impel means to provide a strong …

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Ring vs. Rang vs. Rung

Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008, at 4:55 am

In verb conjugation, a regular verb follows a simple, predictable pattern, such as print (present tense), printed (simple past), and printed (past particle): I print, you printed, and they have printed. An irregular verb is one that forms its simple past tense and past participle with a non-standard pattern. Ring is one such verb. Ring conjugates as …

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Internal Dialogue: Italics or Quotes?

Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008, at 4:47 am

NOTE: Please see our article Diving Back Into Dialogue: Part II, for an expanded discussion of this topic. Internal dialogue is used by authors to indicate what a character is thinking. Direct internal dialogue refers to a character thinking the exact thoughts as written, often in the first person. (The first person singular is I, the …

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Capitalization of Governmental Words

Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2008, at 2:18 am

When you write about or to a governmental agency, do you wonder when to capitalize? Here are some simple rules to help you. Rule: When you use the complete names of departments, capitalize. You may also capitalize a shortened form of a department. Do not capitalize when these words are used as adjectives or generically. …

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Principal vs. Principle

Posted on Monday, April 21, 2008, at 9:06 pm

If you decide to take the free Grammar Mastery Quiz, you’ll eventually come to #40, which has turned out to be confusing for many. Question 40: The department's principal/principle concern is the safety of all employees. First, let’s figure out what part of speech the word is in the sentence above. Since it describes concern, …

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Pleaded vs. Pled

Posted on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, at 2:54 am

For the past tense of to plead, you may use either pleaded or pled. Example: He pleaded not guilty before his trial. Example: He pled not guilty before his trial. Note: In the strict legal sense, one cannot plead innocent. Word of the Week Avuncular: Like an uncle, especially in kindness or tolerance. Example: He …

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Irregular Plurals

Posted on Saturday, April 5, 2008, at 12:32 am

Many nouns in English have a plural form either with an s/es ending or without. For example, when is it correct to use youth vs. youths, fish vs. fishes, or hair vs. hairs? Use youths and hairs when countable. Example: Three youths were given awards for community service. If youth is being used collectively, do …

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Abbreviations vs. Acronyms vs. Initialisms

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2008, at 10:06 pm

Dictionaries don’t all agree on the definitions of these words and neither do style manuals. So we will attempt to shed more light on the distinctions. Abbreviations According to Dictionary.com, an abbreviation is a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United …

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