“We’re judged by the way we write and speak,” I often say.
Jeff Rubin, who founded National Punctuation Day in 2004, agrees:
“People judge us by the way we present ourselves — how we act, how we look, how we speak and how we write. When we are professional in all of these areas, we get our feet in the door for our choice of college, scholarship, job, promotion or business deal. If you’re unprofessional in any of these areas, it can cost you.”
As National Punctuation Day approaches — Monday, Sept. 24 — I’m sharing what I’ve found online about which punctuation mark is misused most often. Continue →
Bullet points help readers scan what you’ve written, quickly drawing attention to key issues and facts. They can tell readers what needs to be done, provide step-by-step instructions, highlight important elements, or list features.
Bullets can be round, square, triangular, diamond, or even customized or whimsical graphics. When listing steps to take, numbers can serve as bullet points to emphasize the correct sequence.
There are no fixed rules of grammar about how to use bullet points, but here are some guidelines. Continue →
In the typewriter age, titles were set off with quotation marks or underlining:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Underlining seems ancient today. Typographer and design expert Robin Williams puts it this way:
“Never underline. Underlining is for typewriters.”
How, then, should you denote book, magazine, movie and song titles, CDs and works of art, poems and websites? What about book chapters, magazine articles, speeches and statues? Style guides differ, but here are general guidelines. Continue →
Knowing how I follow developments in the grammar universe, a colleague sent me a recent article from The Economist, a British publication with international coverage and subscribers.
Started in Scotland in 1843, The Economist now claims a reputation for “a distinctive blend of news based on fact, and analysis incorporating The Economist’s perspective.”
The change in The Economist’s style guide that warranted my colleague’s attention relates to the use of infinitives. The editors have declared — at long last — that infinitives may indeed be split. Continue →
When I hear someone say “thuh only thing … thuh other side … thuh arrival time … thuh entrance,” I consider it a bit clunky, awkward or unrefined. Such pronunciation might not reflect well on the speaker in some circles. Continue →
Headlines provide never-ending examples of incorrect grammar, whether in word choice, word order or punctuation.
Reminder: I define grammar as the words we choose, how we string them together, and how we use punctuation to give them meaning.
News stories and their headlines should be examples of excellent writing. They also should conform to Standard English, defined as the way educated people write and speak. Writing in haste is no excuse for careless errors. Continue →
If you are looking for or will be looking for a job at some point in your life — that includes almost everyone reading this, right? — please consider what a business owner in the Detroit area found when he posted two open positions.
The first was for a part-time customer service position, and the second was for a full-time business-development manager.
Of the hundreds of résumés submitted through Indeed and LinkedIn, about 10 for each position qualified as “maybe,” and three were interviewed for each. Continue →