Category: Hyphens

Copy Editors Are People Too

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, at 9:38 am

There can’t be many books about the life and adventures of a professional word doctor, but one that came out in 2015 is definitely worth a look. It’s Between You and Me, by Mary Norris, a longtime New Yorker copy editor who calls herself a “comma queen.” Norris admits that the book’s very title is a grammar lesson: …

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Punctuation or Chaos

Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at 9:43 am

She said I saved the company No one knows for sure what the above sentence means. It consists of six everyday words, and the first five are monosyllables, yet this simple declarative sentence has at least three quite different meanings—maybe more, because with no period on the end, the reader can’t even be sure the …

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The Elusive En Dash

Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 3:40 pm

When a compound adjective precedes a noun it is describing, we often need a hyphen: prize-winning recipe, twentieth-century literature. If a compound adjective comprises more than two words, we use as many hyphens as are needed: a three-day-old newspaper,a dyed-in-the-wool snob. But try to punctuate the compound adjectives in these phrases: a New York based artist, a Charles …

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Capitalizing Composition Titles: The Lowdown

Posted on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at 7:55 pm

Which words should be capitalized in titles of books, plays, films, songs, poems, essays, chapters, and the like? This is a vexing matter, and policies vary. The time-honored advice—capitalize only the “important” words—doesn’t help much. Aren’t all words in a title important? The following rules for capitalizing composition titles are virtually universal. • Capitalize the …

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Thrash the Slash

Posted on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, at 4:16 pm

There have always been words that people use to show they’re cool—words like cool, which gained wide acceptance in the 1940s, unseating swell, keen, and spiffy. And there have always been trendy phrases. In the 1970s, no one who was cool said in conclusion or in the last analysis. It was all about the bottom …

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