Today’s Propeller Beanie Award goes to our Word Nerd o’ The Day, Karen Conlin of GRAMMARGEDDON! Because along with some very entertaining rants (you know we love those!) Karen and her co-conspirator Ray Vallese provide some extra-handy advice for writers and editors, FOR EXAMPLE:
PSA: When choosing sites, Tweeters, Plussers, etc. from whom to gather writing and/or editing tips, make sure they’re using the same general rules you are at the start. That is to say: If you’re based in the US, and you begin using tips from someone in the UK, you’ll soon find that your editor (or supervising editor, perhaps) will be making wholesale changes because the style is incorrect for the country’s usage. US usage calls for double quotes when writing dialogue; UK style is single quotes. US usage puts punctuation before a closing quote (most of the time); UK usage puts it after. US usage calls for a period following an abbreviation like Dr. or Mr.; UK usage does not. (UK usage also refers to such abbreviations as contractions, a term that US usage reserves for words like “aren’t.”)
Tips about word usage tend to be far less problematic than those on punctuation. US and UK word usage isn’t all that different in most areas. (The immediate example I come up with is that US usage is “different from” [or “different than,” more casually] while UK usage is “different to.”)
By all means, follow grammarians and wordsmiths and editors and writers–but If you are not already conversant with your country’s usage rules, I strongly suggest obtaining a copy of a style guide (mine is CMoS, but I also have APA and MLA to hand) against which to check any advice you consider taking. Failure to do so can lead you to writing perfectly well, yet also quite unacceptably.
via (1) Google+.
See? Very handy indeed. And here’s my +1 comment because I know my readers (all 14 of them) will be fascinated:
Huh — thanks for “different to” — I hadn’t noticed that one! I always have to switch gears for “-ise” (UK) and “-ize” (US). Not to mention the “u” vs “ou” thing. So where we would “glamorize”, in the UK one would “glamourise”. Except one wouldn’t. Because it’s the UK.
As the editors among us have doubtless already noticed, I use the “logical” UK quotation style (putting the periods and commas OUTSIDE the quotation marks when that’s where they belong) as opposed to the “why on earth would you want to do that?!” US style of imposing commas and periods upon the quoted material no matter what. I have done this defiantly (even though it still looks odd to me) since I found out why we do this silly thing, see this footnote from the Darling Guide to Grammar and Punctuation: http://bit.ly/9ZzCH3
Don’t even get me started about the INFURIATING but perfectly correct (I guess) UK usage of “which” for “that”. I might have to point out all the UK grammar rules, which are stupid. (<– See what I did there?)