Judy Vorfeld DID YOU KNOW THAT when using the minus sign, you use a hyphen, not a dash. Word has all kinds of dashes that can pop up when you least expect them: em and em dashes, "named for the length of a typeface's lower-case n and upper-case M respectively," says Wikipedia. Confused? Use the word "minus." To indicate temperatures below zero, write "minus 10" or "5 below zero."
What's the proper way to display the title of a book on a Web page? The traditional method of underlining makes it confusing for Web users, who expect an underlined word or phrase to be a hyperlink. Should the title be bolded? Italicized?
A lot of underlining of book titles is used in bibliographies for scholarly works, but other than that, it's not done much on the Web. Or shouldn't be. And it's not used in the print world much, either. Underlining was initially used to tell the typesetter to put specific text in italics.
The latest style guides say to use italics for titles of books, films plays, and long poems, works of art, periodicals, etc. One of my favorite online style guides is The Web Content Style Guide by McGovern, Norton, and O'Dowd (2002). Another that has just been published is The Yahoo! Style Guide. I recently downloaded it to my Kindle, and it is excellent.
Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition (2003) says (8.172) that when quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized. CMS also says that titles of articles, chapters, and other works are set in roman text and enclosed in quotation marks.
A couple of weeks ago I received the Amazon Kindle I'd ordered weeks earlier. It was worth the wait. I was in the middle of editing two different documents, and may I say that sitting down with the hard copy, some ice water, a red pen, and a Kindle makes editing faster and easier. Not the picky, picky editing and proofing: that takes time. But when I have a question about a word in terms of capitalization or punctuation, I have two built-in dictionaries that serve me well. As soon as I opened up my Kindle and saw the dictionaries, I knew that I also needed a thesaurus, and I downloaded a dandy: Doubleday Roget's. It works when I need to find a word better suited to the reading audience. Then I surfed Kindle's Store for a good style guide, and came up with a great compromise: The Yahoo Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World, which is primarily written for the Web, but many of the writing rules apply nicely to print publications...in terms of capitalization, punctuation, and general usage. Sometimes I edit using my computer screen, but I always prefer final edits on hard copy, and now I can sit down and dig into my work instead of saving much of it for a time when I can refer to my online Visual Thesaurus or one of my print style guides. I plan to read some fiction as well, but right now, Kindle is a dandy, lightweight workhorse. Should work for writers as well...
Have you ever wanted to become an expert on alliteration? If nothing else, it's such a beautiful word! Seriously, when one uses alliteration properly--especially in publications--it is subtly effective. If you work on Web sites, e-zines, or print newsletters, this may be a good time for you to brush up on the amazing world of alliteration. Continue Reading