If you work with words, you’re probably familiar with the related but supposedly antithetical concepts known as prescriptivism and descriptivism. And people take sides. Either you’re a stickler (you’re a prescriptivist) or you go with the flow (you’re a descriptivist).
According to The Chicago Manual of Style, commas and periods are almost always placed before a closing quotation mark, “like this,” rather than after, “like this”. This traditional style has persisted even though it’s no longer universally followed outside of the United States and isn’t entirely logical.
Few people will accept that up means down simply because you say so in writing, not even if you’re perfectly consistent about it. Still, when it comes to editorial principles, consistency is second only to being right.
It hasn’t reflected publishing standards since the Jazz Age. And it isn’t Chicago style. But some people continue to do it in their own documents—from manuscripts to emails. You’ll even see it occasionally on social media.
Its generic name is the serial (or series) comma, but a lot of people refer to it by a fancier name: Oxford comma.
In 1929, when the song “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” became a big hit, composers Thomas “Fats” Waller and Harry Brooks probably weren’t too worried about that final apostrophe.
Microsoft Word does a lot of things automatically, and it does them by default. Some of these interventions are welcome. But to a copyeditor, Word’s meddling can be dangerous.
If you follow Chicago style, it’s a safe bet you know that a Chicago-style ellipsis consists of three spaced periods. You probably also know . . .
Okay, now that I’ve introduced myself, let’s talk about that headline up there. If you’re like me and edit or proofread for a living, you’ve probably noticed that something about it isn’t quite right. . . .
I love Microsoft Word shortcuts, and I post them from time to time when I stumble across a new one. But how’s a body supposed to discover all the features of this gigantic application when so many of them aren’t even visible on the ribbon? To root them out, I went online and browsed around. Confession: half of these tricks