Nicholas Kristof | Inclusive or Alienating? The Language Wars Go On – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Before the millions of views, the subsequent ridicule and finally the earnest apology, The Associated Press Stylebook practically oozed good intentions in its tweet last week:

“We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college educated.”

“The French”?

Zut alors! The result was a wave of mocking conjecture of how to refer sensitively to, er, people of French persuasion. The French Embassy in the United States proposed changing its name to “the Embassy of Frenchness.” “

punctuation – Why does the multi-paragraph quotation rule exist? – English Language & Usage Stack Exchange

The answer to this question clearly explains the standard rule that when you have multiple quoted paragraphs, each new paragraph starts with an opening quotation mark, but only the final quoted paragraph has a closing quotation mark at its end.

This Wikipedia article on Quotation Marks agrees:

Quotation marks are used for multiple-paragraph quotations in some cases, especially in narratives. The convention in English is to give opening quotation marks to the first and each subsequent paragraph, using closing quotation marks only for the final paragraph of the quotation [ . . . ]

However, neither explains why this is the standard practice. What good does it do? What is it trying to avoid? What harm would occur if it were ignored and people put both opening and closing quotation marks on each adjacent quoted paragraph?

up vote 157 down vote accepted


“That seems like an odd way to use punctuation,” Tom said. “What harm would there be in using quotation marks at the end of every paragraph?”

“Oh, that’s not all that complicated,” J.R. answered. “If you closed quotes at the end of every paragraph, then you would need to reidentify the speaker with every subsequent paragraph.

“Say a narrative was describing two or three people engaged in a lengthy conversation. If you closed the quotation marks in the previous paragraph, then a reader wouldn’t be able to easily tell if the previous speaker was extending his point, or if someone else in the room had picked up the conversation. By leaving the previous paragraph’s quote unclosed, the reader knows that the previous speaker is still the one talking.”


via punctuation – Why does the multi-paragraph quotation rule exist? – English Language & Usage Stack Exchange

Placement of “Also” in Sentence | Technical Writing Tips for the Oil Patch

“Placement of “Also” in SentenceThe word “also” means “too” or “in addition.” Normally, the word “also” goes before a simple past or present tense verb, but goes after the verb “to be” and any auxiliary or modal verbs.Examples:The well may have produced 258 b/d of heavy oil, but it also produced a lot of sand. (before simple past tense)This downhole tool not only measures temperature, but it also measures pressure.(before simple present tense)She may be a lawyer, but she is also a registered petroleum engineer.(after verb “to be”)”

Source: Placement of “Also” in Sentence | Technical Writing Tips for the Oil Patch

Professor Gibson’s “Making Words Work: A Guide to Grammar and Usage”

Hello. Welcome to Professor Malcolm Gibson’s Wonderful World of Words — a.k.a. “Making Words Work” — the world of writing, editing, grammar and usage as it is preached and practiced by Malcolm Gibson, a former newspaper editor professing journalism at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

This is his warm-and-fuzzy digital guide to good word use. You have access to a multitude of goodies that can help, inform and, in some cases, entertain. Lurking among the links are even a few surprises, most of them pleasant.


Source: Professor Gibson’s “Making Words Work: A Guide to Grammar and Usage”


 Said: “Said” is the best word of attribution most of the time.  That’s because it has no connotations.  All other words of attribution carry some additional, usually editorial, meaning. They are appropriate only if that additional meaning is proper and accurate. Even “stated” carries some connotational baggage: It implies formality, something read from a prepared script. Try not to use the words “according to” when attributing something to a person. Reserve it for reference a to written reports and stories that have been published in other newspapers or magazines. Use the word “charged” in attribution only in the context of a formal legal action. Avoid words such as “added,” “mentioned” (which implies it was done “in passing” or as an afterthought) and the like.


Source: Attribution

He Said, She Said: Stephen King’s Advice on Dialogue Tags |

“I think we all agree that dialogue tags are necessary for readers to know who’s talking. But writers are divided in how we use them: Some, including Raymond Carver, simply use “he said,…”

Source: He Said, She Said: Stephen King’s Advice on Dialogue Tags |

Understanding Hyphens and Dashes (Microsoft Word 7 and above)

Word supports the use of both hyphens and dashes. Actually, it supports three types of hyphens and two types of dashes. It is important to understand how Word handles each of these as they can affect the appearance of your document. Regular hyphens. These are created by simply typing the hyphen key. This is the key that is to the right of the zero key on the keyboard. It is sometimes mistakenly called a dash key.

Regular hyphens are used to create compound words, such as “mix-up,” or to indicate a minus sign in an equation. If a compound word appears near the end of a line, the second word will be displayed on the next line, if necessary, with the first word and hyphen remaining on the previous line.

Optional hyphens. These are created by pressing Ctrl+- (Ctrl and the hyphen key). Optional hyphens are typically used in the middle of a word, between syllables, to indicate where a word should be broken between lines if Word deems it necessary. Optional hyphens are the type inserted automatically when you use the Hyphenation tool in Word. The optional hyphen does not appear on any printout unless it is actually used at the end of a line.

Non-breaking hyphens. These are created by pressing Ctrl+Shift+- (Ctrl+Shift and the hyphen key). Non-breaking hyphens are used in compound words to indicate that both words and the hyphen should be treated as a single word when Word is forming lines. In this case, the compound word will never be broken over two lines. It is also helpful to use non-breaking hyphens in phone numbers.

En dash. An en dash is a typographic dash that is as wide as a lowercase “n” character. These dashes are typically used to denote ranges of numbers, as in 3–7. You create an en dash by pressing Ctrl and the minus sign on the numeric keypad. You can also create it by holding down the Alt key as you type 0150 on the numeric keypad. If necessary, Word will break a line right after the en dash, not before it. In other words, the en dash always stays with the characters immediately preceding it. Em dash. An em dash is a typographic dash that is supposed to be as wide as a lowercase “m” character. In Word, however, the em dash is twice as wide as the en dash. (The width of the em-dash can vary from font to font.)

Em dashes are used in creating breaks in sentences between two separate thoughts. Word will substitute an em dash automatically as you are typing if you type a word, two hyphens in a row, and another word. You can also explicitly enter an em dash if you press Ctrl+Alt and the minus sign on the numeric keypad. You can also enter one by holding down the Alt key as you type 0151 on the numeric keypad. If necessary, Word will break a line right after the em dash, not before it. The em dash always stays with the word immediately before it.

Source: Understanding Hyphens and Dashes (Microsoft Word)

How Technology Is Besting My Blindness – Bloomberg

How Technology Is Besting My Blindness

Years ago, I feared my disability would sharply confine my world. It hasn’t. by Michael SchumanJanuary 19, 2017, 4:30 AM ESTFromSubscribe Reprints

“I was hurtling through Shanghai in a cigarette-scented taxi, not quite sure where I was headed. Cab jaunts through unfamiliar places can be a bit stressful for anybody. You feel vulnerable and too dependent on a driver you don’t know and can’t necessarily trust. But for me, such trips in rickety taxis rattle my nerves even more than my spine—because I’m almost blind.

I have a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which is causing my sight to deteriorate over time until there will be little, or possibly nothing, left. Even now I can’t see in the dark and have almost no peripheral vision. As my taxi sped through Shanghai, I couldn’t read the street signs or building numbers. After the sun began to set, it became difficult to tell one street from the next. And I couldn’t read the taxi meter. I’ve gotten ripped off before by unscrupulous cabbies, and I prefer not to rely on them to tell me how much I owe.

So that night I experimented with some technology. I have an app on my iPad that transforms the camera into a powerful magnifier. I use it mainly to read small text on business cards and restaurant menus. Could it help me see the taxi meter, all the way from the back seat? I aimed the iPad at where I thought the meter might be, tapped on the app, and zoomed in. There was the fare—bright, large, and clear enough on my screen to read. Disaster averted.Advancing technology rescues me again and again, and on matters much more critical than a taxi ride. I’m writing this essay on a PC I’ve customized to enlarge icons and fonts, letting me write and work as efficiently as I could if I were fully sighted. Thanks to the revolution of digital media, I can read newspapers and magazines on devices that allow me to fine-tune the size of the text and brightness of the screen so I digest information as quickly as ever. Economists’ reports and academic papers arrive in my in-box as easy-to-adjust PDFs. Simply, emerging technology has given me the opportunity to maintain my productivity, even as my disability has grown worse.”

Source: How Technology Is Besting My Blindness – Bloomberg