The singular “they” and guidance on gender

Rivaling the Oxford comma, the so-called singular they is one of the most debated grammar topics. What do I mean by "the singular they"? I'm referring to the use of they as a gender-neutral pronoun to mean he or she (and the use of them in place of him or her, and their instead of … Continue reading The singular “they” and guidance on gender


When to use the Oxford comma (gasp!)

Ah, the Oxford comma. It's at the center of one of the most contentious copy-editing debates of all time. Today, I'll clear up a long-held misconception about this famous grammar dispute and provide guidance on when to use this infamous punctuation, to ensure your writing conveys the intended meaning. What is the Oxford comma? The … Continue reading When to use the Oxford comma (gasp!)

Use gender-neutral language

Mankind. Mother Nature. Congressmen. What do these terms have in common? It's probably clear that they're gendered. No, these particular examples likely won't offend all readers, but the generally accepted trend has been toward using more gender-neutral, inclusive language. Of course, we should also make sure the meaning is clear. Is "honored attendant" better than … Continue reading Use gender-neutral language


A few words about numbers

Do… … make numbers easy for readers to digest. Usually, this means rounding off very large numbers if there's not a good reason for them to be exact. NO: On average, Earth is 92,955,807 miles (149,597,870 kilometers) from the sun. YES: On average, Earth is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from the sun. … Continue reading A few words about numbers


Don’t freeze up over winter weather

Here are some winter-weather-related tips to keep in mind this season. Here are the National Weather Service's official definitions of these terms, so please try to adhere to them (e.g., don't use "blizzard" when you really mean "heavy snow"). blizzard  Wind speeds of 35 mph or more and considerable falling and/or blowing of snow with … Continue reading Don’t freeze up over winter weather


One for the ages

Here's one for the ages — or at least the current AP style rule for how to say how old something or someone is. (Sorry, couldn't help it.) Guidelines for writing ages - For people and animals, always use numerals. Little Johnny turned 4 years old today. Sparky, the oldest golden retriever in the world, … Continue reading One for the ages