The purpose for style standards is to keep the same things the same so that uniquenesses will stand out in celebration.
— Jesse Steele, Writer
Abbreviations incl. Sr. U.S.A. et al.
Here are some common Latin abbreviations, note their form.
e.g. (exempli gratia — for instance)
etc. (et cetera — and the others)
et al. (et alii — and other coworkers)
i.e. (id est — that is)
AD (anno Domini — in the year of our Lord)
A.M. (ante meridiem — before midday)
P.M. (post meridiem — after midday)
M.O. (modus operandi — method of operating)
M.A. (Magister Artium — Master of Arts)
Ph.D. (Philosophiae Doctor — Doctor of Philosophy)
viz. (videlicet — namely)
v. or vs. (versus — against) v. is usually legal, vs. is usually non-legal
In digital text or casual writing, the period may be omitted to save time and space, but check your style guide!
- Long and Common Words
Just make sure the abbreviations are recognizable, known, or explained somewhere in your writing.
…incl. misc. items, or someth. of the sort.
Then, there are some common abbreviations for English grammar, i.e…
comp. Adjective, comparative
supl. Adjective, superlative
vn. Verbal noun
vd. Verb, ditransitive
vi. Verb, intransitive
vt. Verb, transitive
- Multiple Words, One Letter Each
Do not use spaces between the dotted letters…
United States of America: U.S.A.
In casual writing, and arguably in digital media, you can save time and space by omitting the periods…
United States of America: USA
- End of a Sentence
An abbreviation period overlaps with a period at the close of a sentence, but not a question or exclamation mark.
Do you want apples, grapes, etc.?
Yes, I want apples, grapes, etc.
Commas, , ,
- Excerptables, like this,
There are near-countless ways to use commas. You will find that, unless you are listing three or more items, all uses of a comma have one thing in common:
Put commas around anything that can be cut out and the sentence will remain complete.
Do your own research on different ways to use commas. Just note that, except for the Serial (Oxford) Comma, all other uses of commas have excerptability. Here are a few applicable topics to explore, and remember for trivia games…
- Non-Restrictive (vs. Restrictive)
- Vocative (addressing someone)
- Dependent clauses
- Beginning a sentence with a conjunction
- Before an adverse conjunction
- Serial (Oxford) Comma:
one, two, and three
Without the serial comma, “two and three” become an excerptable non-restrictive parenthetical two-part subcategory list of “one”.
The above artwork is used by permission, courtesy the artist:
“The Oxford Comma” (Rhinoceri, Washington, and Lincoln) — Eric Edelman
My children, Alice and the white rabbit.
…while the white rabbit may not be your child, Alice could be…
…unless you’re a rabbit. But, we’ll never know with only one comma.
Use the Serial (Oxford) Comma with multiple adjectives, even though multiple adjectives and compounding adverbs is usually just tacky.
It was a great, big, ugly, glaring, and amateur mistake to use so many adjectives to cover for lack of ability to digitally, beautifully, and creatively express one’s self.
Even with adjectives, the Serial Comma is important—unless you thing that “beautifully” and “creatively” are obvious forms of “digitally”; then, by all means, leave it out.
If you want to have respect, be understood and not use the Serial Comma, good luck. (See what I did there?)
…maybe this works better…
If you want to have respect, be understood, and not use the Serial Comma, good luck.
Exception in titles:
Titles should be brief, emphatic, and uncomplex. To keep titles short, with three-item lists, I use an ampersand (&) in place of the serial comma in titles like so:
For an article about “One, Two, and Three”…
Blog post: One, Two & Three
…The key is 1. it uses ampersand (&), 2. the ampersand stands where the Serial Oxford Comma would, and 3. it is a title.
For an article about an excerptable non-restrictive parenthetical two-part subcategory list of “one”, use the unmistakeable parentheses to drive the point home…
Blog post: One (Uno & Yi)
“Double Quotes” ” “
- Quoted Dialogue (Reported Speech)
Use commas to separate narration from dialogue. Close dialogue sentences with punctuation inside the quotes.
He said, “Let’s leave.”
“Let’s leave,” he said. Then he added, “for I am weary of punctuation.”
…and with narrated questions…
So, she asked, “Where is your seat?”
Use the narrator’s punctuation outside of quoted dialogue punctuation.
…if the narrator asks about a statement…
Should I have said, “Stop it.”?
…or if the narrator comments about a question…
I didn’t want to ask the question, “What do you think you’re doing?”.
- Exacting Words (Identifying Terminology)
Use quotes to indicate exact words as used. Do not quote punctuation of non-dialogue.
…when identifying specific words…
I like the color “plum“, right at the top of the list.
…in reference to misspoken or invented words…
Let’s listen to the president’s new “strategery“.
…regardless of truthfulness..
He claims to be an “honest politician“.
“Hard work“—that’s what you call it? Remind me to bring a lemonade and lawn chair next time I do “hard work“.
- Titles (books, periodical/blog articles, songs, artwork pieces, et cetera)
In your normal paragraph, put quotes around the title.
In his book “Mere Theology“, Jesse will leave you both enlightened and exhausted.
Some style guides require underling book titles and magazine names, but put quotes on newspaper and magazine articles. But, with the Internet this may be less common. Book and magazine names don’t need the distinction. And, on the Internet, underlining often indicates a clickable hyperlink. There are no absolute rules with this beyond the style guide for your project. But, it is probably safe to use quotes for all titles, including books and magazines, and reserve underlining for clickable hyperlinks.
‘Single Quotes’ ‘ ‘
- “‘Dialogue‘ within dialogue”
Use single quotes inside anything inside double quotes.
Then she murmured, “I don’t know who he thinks he is, saying, ‘We’ve already got one.‘“
- Quotes ‘inside‘ titles
In actual titles, use single quotes so that double quotes can be wrapped around them without confusion or alteration. (This is opinion and some style guides may have other rules, but it should be easily allowable and is certainly courteous.)
Blog post: Serial Ampersand ‘One, Two & Three‘
Blog post: She said, ‘Not on your life!‘
…but, colon-playwright style is better for reporting speech in titles…
Blog post: She: Not on your life!
Dashes — – – — – – — – –
Windows code: (numeric keypad)
em — Alt+0151
en – Alt+0150
Ubuntu code: (‘Compose Key’ is determined in keyboard settings)
em — Compose – – –
en – Compose – – .
Say, “Siri, how to I type an em dash or en dash?” Wait, you mean you type instead of just having Siri transcribe for you? #MacMoment
The em and en dashes are not simply double hyphens. It is grossly careless and incompetent for a news or writing website or publication to use double hyphens where an em or en dash is intended.
Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, and other wordprocessors usually convert two hyphens (- -) into an em dash (—) or an en dash (–), depending on context; no space between words for em dash and space between words for en dash. This is an automatic “quick fix” for easy typing and is not a genuine use of dashes.
- em Dash —
Use in place of commas (except in lists), or in place of parentheses and semicolons. This adds both emphasis and clarity.
Let’s talk about three things—all of which I’m sure you will understand—after we finish lunch.
The em dash makes it easier to follow the thought flow in interjections.
Any sentence fragment at all—you can interrupt yourself with an em dash.
Classic use of the em dash is in the Gettysburg Address…
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground.
The em dash can also ascribe a quote to its author.
Technically, use the “quotation dash”—which is usually identical to the em dash, but may have a different computer code. Never use the en dash for this – that would be just tacky! (Space after the dash is probably a matter of preference and specific style guides. If in doubt, ask your style guide guardian.)
…these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
— President Abraham Lincoln
- en Dash –
Use the en dash to indicate a range of numbers or items
June 23–August 8
Numbers (dates, years, or any number)…
- Hyphen –
Add a prefix to a word with a hyphen if the prefix cannot be considered part of proper spelling.
I won’t say it is “inappropriate”, just that it is non–appropriate.
Connect two separate words into one word for grammatical purposes…
In other words, that less–than–appropriate action will be well–remembered.
Let’s talk about your word–grouping errors.
Connect the tens and ones place in spelled numbers…
fifty–seven, thirty–two, seventeen, one hundred five, and eighty–three
Use the hyphen as a “minus” symbol, though it may have a different computer code…
6 – 2 = 4
Colon: :: :
- Introduce Lists
Please include the following: a pencil, string, and toothpaste.
- Introduce Ideas
Do not capitalize after the colon if the sentence is not complete…
You overlooked one thing: candles.
Do capitalize after the colon if the sentence is complete…
How’s this: Let’s talk over coffee.
- Playwright Dialogue
Avison: Let’s eat!
Jamison: Let’s not and say we did!
- Field Labels
Date of Birth: April 1, 1900
Semicolon; ;; ;
- Joint logical sentences
We should find all the mice; our computers won’t work without them.
- Large list sub-groups, distinguished from commas
This is not normal and is based on style, but if often makes sense
There are three sets of numbers: 8, 5, 9; 7, 22, 0; 1267, 4, 19.
Use parentheses for any added idea. This is just the way you would use commas to indicate that the words can be cut out of the sentence, but adds emphasis that 1. the idea is a separate thought and 2. the reader can skip past the parentheses entirely and not miss vital information.
I have many (very many, to say the least) ideas (my pizza crust recipe notwithstanding) which I am famous for .
Put periods inside the parentheses if the parentheses wrap an entire sentence.
Growing window lettuce is one of the recently-forgotten kitchen gardening arts. (We can revisit that later.)
Put the period outside of the parentheses that can be removed from the sentence.
Refer to the list (below).
Note: Some style guides may have specific rules, such as the period must be inside the parentheses, even if they only wrap part of a sentence. This largely came before copy-paste technology was widely-used with the Internet. But, consult your style guide because some styles may differ.