Which to use? Due to or Because of? Here are a few tips to keep you aligned with the latest style guides. Due to modifies nouns and is generally used after some form of the verb to be (is, are, was, were, etc.). Jan's success is due to talent and spunk (due to modifies success and introduces an adjective phrase and should modify nouns). Because of should modify verbs. It introduces an adverbial phrase. Ted resigned because of poor health (because of modifies resigned). He did not resign due to poor health.
In a quandary about how to abbreviate days of the week and months? Welcome to the twenty-first century! Let's take three excellent style guides and see what they offer.
THE GREGG REFERENCE MANUAL, NINTH EDITION says, "Do not abbreviate days of the week and months of the year except in tables or lists where space is limited."
Gregg is addressing business documents, for the most part. It suggests that abbreviations are appropriate when the emphasis is on "communicating data in the briefest form. In other kinds of writing, where a more formal style is appropriate, use abbreviations sparingly. When in doubt, spell it out."
The latest AP STYLEBOOK says, "When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone."
It says that in tabular material, use three-letter forms without a period (the first three letters of each month).
The stylebook, published primarily for journalists, also says to capitalize the days of the week, and to not abbreviate them except when needed to facilitate tabular composition.
THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE, 15th Edition, targets authors, editors, proofreaders, indexers, copywriters, designers, and publishers. "Where space restrictions require that the names of months be abbreviated," it says, "one of the following systems may be used. The second and third, which take no periods, are used respectively in computer systems and indexes of periodical literature." It follows with these examples:
- Jan. (or Jan or Ja)
- Feb. (or Feb or F)
- Mar. (or Mar or Mr)
- Apr. (or Apr or Ap)
- May (or May or My)
- June (or Jun or Je)
- July (or Jul or Jl)
- Aug. (or Aug or Ag)
- Sept. (or Sep or S)
- Oct. (or Oct or O)
- Nov. (or Nov or N)
- Dec. (or Dec or D)
CMS says much the same about days of the week. Use where space restrictions exist as follows:
- Sun. or Su
- Mon. or M
- Tues. or Tu
- Wed. or W
- Thurs. or Th
- Fri. or F
- Sat. or Sa
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. DEFINITION*: Main Entry: al·lit·er·a·tion (pronounced uh-lit-tuh-RA-shun) Function: noun - Date: circa 1656 Etymology: ad- + Latin littera letter : the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (as wild and woolly, threatening throngs) -- called also head rhyme, initial rhyme Generally one can use alliteration in business: in headings, headlines, and (very carefully) in letters, proposals, reports, etc. Here's some alliteration used recently by my local newspaper, The Arizona Republic, in one day's main section: 1. Gaming talks a big gamble (better than ...Gaming talks a big risk.) 2. Fisher hunt feeds tales for campfire (better than ...hunt generates tales...) 3. Pope asks president to spare McVeigh (better than ...Pope asks Bush to...) 4. Death spurs Ecstasy debate (better than ...spurs Ecstasy wrangle...) 5. Tiny tribe in Conn... (better than ...Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in Conn...) 6. Mexican Congress changes (better than ...Mexican Congress shifts...) 7. ...threatens power and popularity (better than ...threatens strength and popularity... or ...threatens power and reputation.) In alliteration, the rhyming words don't need to be next to each other; they just need to be in the same grouping of words. And the words used don't need to begin with the same letter: they need to have a similar initial sound. Examples: night / knight ... no / know ... cede / seed ... cell / sell. *By permission. From Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary at www.m-w.com by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.
By Judy Vorfeld Have you ever visited a visually attractive site and then spotted phrases such as, "If your interested in learning more about our Websight, e-mail us," or "This product comes with an unconditional guarantee. It's high quality will make you're life better!"? How about, "Body fat problems? We can help. Of coarse you need patients when it comes to reducing the access around you're waste." You have just entered the puzzling world of homonyms (same: homo - name: nym). A homonym is a word with the same pronunciation as another but with a different meaning and origin and usually, different spelling as well. These little critters run rampant through cyberspace, especially on Websites, often turning away potential clients/customers. Rather than rip apart people who use homonyms in their text, I want to offer some friendly help. We'll use some of the most common mistakes and offer alternatives according Webgrammar's Style! ALL RIGHT vs. ALRIGHT All right: all right means okay, satisfactory, agreeable, safe, good, well. Alright: While alright is used often in fictional dialogue, and is still preferred by some writers of journalistic and business publications, we'll merely say that it is outdated for daily use. ITS vs. IT'S Its: The possessive form of the pronoun it. NEVER written with an apostrophe. Since most possessives have apostrophes, this confuses many people. It's: contraction of it is and it has. Examples: It's time to go ... It's been great ... It's a well-designed site. YOUR vs. YOU'RE Your shows ownership: it's your choice ... it's your money ... it's your Website. You're is a contraction of "you" and "are." Example: You're heading in the right direction. Both words: "You're taking a big risk with your animated graphics." THEIR vs. THEY'RE vs. THERE Their: possessive form of the word "they." As with the possessive of it, you do NOT use an apostrophe for this word. You say, "Their site is colorful, crisp, and clear." They're: Contraction of the words "they" and "are." Example: They're giving away powerful prizes. There: at or in that place, e.g., "Now there is a sound system to die for." All three: They're eating their hot fudge sundaes before heading over there. PRINCIPAL vs. PRINCIPLE Principal: first in authority; main participant; amount of a debt, investment, minus the interest, or on which interest is computed. Examples: She is a high school principal ... K. A. Simpson is a principal in the firm ... he still owes $5,000 on the principal. Principle: basic truth or assumption. His ethics and principles are lower than a snake slithering on its stomach. If you're a Website owner who has problems with homonyms, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, or just plain writing, don't be discouraged! You have a number of choices: Ignore the fact and hope no one notices. After all, you have a great product or service! Keep a good dictionary on your desk at all times, use it frequently, and guard it with your life. Hire a copyeditor to proof your words. Ask a friend to proof your words. If your friend isn't tactful and you're rather sensitive, you may end up with one less friend and a hole in your heart. Find one of the many sites designed to help you with specific grammar and language problems. See the list below. Ask Webgrammar for advice at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org HELPFUL SITES: Alan Cooper's Homonyms Self-study Homonym Quizzes
Notorious Confusables Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, & Heteronyms
For more information, contact Judy Vorfeld