Issue 60, 13 May 2002
In this issue...
Relevant and irrelevant grammar
Grammar, punctuation and spelling: online resources
Use of hyphens
Reader comment on "Do editors focus on the wrong things?"
Welcome to new subscribers
Results of poll on hardcopy and onscreen editing
Corrections to my page on website terminology
New book - Taming Microsoft Word 2000 now available
Tracking advertising results: Adminder
Diversify your business and your income
When editors focus on irrelevant grammar and punctuation, their reputation for being unhelpful nitpickers increases. When editors focus instead on relevant grammar issues, they increase their value to writers -- and the writers are far more likely to appreciate the contribution of editors.
What are relevant grammar and irrelevant grammar rules?
Relevant grammar and punctuation rules are those that are essential for clear, unambiguous communication.
Irrelevant grammar and punctuation rules are those that are not essential to clarity and unambiguity. Many such rules are a matter of style, not prescriptive grammatical rules. As style issues, they may be written into a style guide as "the way we do things here," to improve consistency in a company's publications, but editors and writers need to recognize them as style choices, not immutable rules of English grammar.
The full article is here: http://www.jeanweber.com/about/grammar2.htm
The Web abounds with sites teaching grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Not surprisingly, most of these sites are provided by educational institutions, teachers, or business-writing consultants, presumably to make up for the lack of grammar teaching in so many school systems for the past several decades. Some are tutorials (masquerading as style guides) for technical communicators. This page lists a few sites that I have found useful or that other people have recommended to me.
The instructions on some of these pages contradict the rules in other references, so the sites serve as good examples of grammatical style rather than the way to do something. So far I haven't seen any instructions that I considered wrong. Many of the differences are typical of the differences between American and British English; all are correct.
Melinda Faulkner wrote,
"I'm writing to enquire about your use of the first hyphen in the phrase "clearly-labeled stand-alone tutorial" (in your recent article titled "Are chapter numbers necessary?"). The references that I use at work (Chicago and Gregg's) recommend against such a hyphen. Do you use a different reference that mandates this hyphen?"
The referenced article is here: http://www.jeanweber.com/news/tenews58.htm#cn
"No, in that case I used it because there were four words in a row modifying "tutorial" and it seemed more clear (and more balanced) to hyphenate each set of two. That first hyphen isn't necessary, and as you say, standard references these days recommend against it. Actually, I think I use it mostly because back in the dark ages
Irene Wong writes in response to my article "Do editors focus on the wrong things?" http://www.jeanweber.com/about/focus.htm
"I would also suggest that some editors don't seem to establish a good working relationship with their authors and therefore it is more difficult for them to do what they might. I always feel that one needs to hire an editor who can do the technical side of editing but can also be let loose among authors who can be very sensitive. It's really difficult for an author to have their work edited for the first time. The editor must set up some sort of trust with them, including telling them up front what they will be doing and what they can expect."
I certainly agree with Irene on that issue.
Quite a few people have subscribed recently to this newsletter. I am delighted to welcome you all. Please note that back issues are archived on this site, though I am always a bit behind in the indexing. Click the Newsletter link on any page to go to the list of back issues. (That list, by the way, is a good example of a bad way to present such a list, as it gives no indication of what's in any of the newsletters.)
Do wander around the main pages and see what else is available, and do feel free to ask questions, comment on items published, contribute something of your own to the newsletter, tell me about a resource you find useful, or just chat.
Several issues ago, I ran a poll asking whether readers of this newsletter edited primarily on paper, onscreen, or both depending on circumstances. Here are the results. My apologies for forgetting to publish these earlier.
99 Total votes
I have revised my page on terminology and spelling for Web-related concepts, which was a bit out of date regarding the appropriate use of lower case letters in file names. Thanks to Greg Riccardi for pointing this out to me.
In the past, capitalization was irrelevant when HTML tags were used in HTML documents. But new markup, including XML and XHTML, is different: XML is case sensitive and XHMTL requires lower case tags. The future of HTML is XHTML, so we should be setting up files to make the transition as easy as possible.
My new book, "Taming Microsoft Word 2000" is now available in both printed and downloadable PDF form. You can read the table of contents here: http://www.jeanweber.com/books/tamewd2k.htm.
That page also gives information on pricing and how to order. If you bought "Taming Microsoft Word" after January 1, 2002, you can upgrade to a PDF of the new edition at a reduced price.
I use Adminder, an ad-tracking service, and I recommend it to anyone who is doing any kind of marketing on the Web. For more information, visit this site.
While you've been reading the above, thousands of people all over the world have been working to put money in my pocket. By this time next week, YOU could be making extra money too. Get full no-obligation information here.
© Copyright 2002, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.
You may forward this newsletter (in whole or in part) to friends and colleagues, as long as you retain this copyright and subscription information, and do not charge any fee.
This newsletter is no longer being published.
I do not sell, rent, or give my mailing list to anyone.