We’ve all read those bossy directives from advice mongers: “Do rock a ripped T with a bright floral skirt.” “Don’t chew gum during an interview.” “Do practice blending eyeshadow with your brush.” “Don’t yank electrical cords from the wall.” Aside from being either fatuous and trendy or obvious and unhelpful, such lists actually pose some editorial dangers.
Brooke Borel, author of The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking, is a science writer and journalist. She is a contributing editor to Popular Science, and her writing has also appeared in such places as the Atlantic and Slate. She teaches fact-checking at the Brooklyn
Frequently, writers to the “Chicago Style Q&A” express the belief that when an abbreviation is introduced in a document, it must be introduced once and once only (when the term first appears) and that thereafter the spelled-out term must never be used again.
“Between her and me”? Test your knowledge of pronoun usage! This month’s workout, “Personal Pronouns,” centers on sections 5.38–46 of CMOS.
CMOS: How did you come to think about writing as “flabby”? HS: Many years ago, I read Richard Lanham’s book Revising Prose, which influenced me deeply as a writer. Lanham teaches you to identify the “lard factor” in your writing, based on the percentage of words that you could omit without significantly changing its meaning. The Writer’s Diet follows similar principles, but with
Are you ready for some heavy lifting? Today’s workout centers on sections 5.108–13 of CMOS. . . . True or false:
“Oozing slowly across the floor, Marvin watched the salad dressing.” “I smelled the oysters coming down the stairs for dinner.” Most of us don’t have to worry about overlooking gaffes as obvious as these, but more subtle danglers—or misplaced modifiers—sometimes sneak by even the most careful
Shortcuts in editing may be frowned upon, but when it comes to word processing, editing shortcuts are not only allowed, they’re essential. If you’re still fumbling around in the pull-down menus, fighting with features that won’t leave you alone, and wasting time on tasks that could
If you could design the perfect app for writers or editors, what would it be? What chore would you love to be automated with a tap on your keyboard or phone?
If your company produces any kind of writing, there’s a good chance you can benefit from using a style guide—even if you’re not in a field immediately associated with publishing. The best practice for any company is for everyone to use the same guide for spelling, punctuation, and a multitude of other style matters.