if william strunk was a typographer, would he omit needless spaces

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE has been around for almost one-hundred years, but it didn’t start its march to universal acclaim until 1959. That year saw the first edition of William Strunk’s little book expanded from 43 pages to 78 pages by “co-author” E.B. White. Forty years earlier, Professor Strunk had published the book as CONTINUE READING

my forte is not my fortay, it’s just my fort

WE HEAR IT and we say it incorrectly! We usually hear “fortay” when people say “forte,” an almost universally mispronounced word! I can’t say it’s a part of everyone’s daily vocabulary, but if you read enough you’ll come across it regularly. I’m writing this because it was used in a couple of movies that CONTINUE READING

on william strunk and vigorously concise writing

WILLIAM STRUNK JR was Professor of English at Cornell University. In 1918, he self-published a guide for his students on English usage and writing called The Elements Of Style. The slim book consisted primarily of eight “elementary rules of usage” and ten “elementary principles of composition” accompanied by a “few matters of form.’ CONTINUE READING

about editing and those confusing proofreader’s marks

ASIDE FROM MY OWN WORK, I have edited several books and many articles for others. I have no formal training in, merely study about editing. I never used the field’s accepted nomenclature or proof-reading symbols. I just used my Strunk & White and everything worked out hunky-dory for those writers!

If you’re blogger who CONTINUE READING

at least hillary knows the difference between “alternative” and “alternate”

LAST NIGHT’S SLUGFEST consisted of ninety minutes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton calling each other names (“liar” popped up more than once) and declaring each other untrustworthy and unfit for office. Policy differences and other matters that should concern these two candidates were set aside so that each could impugn the basic character CONTINUE READING

some (piss) poor writing about hillary’s “role” in the attack on benghazi

THE LAST WORD ANYONE would use to describe me is “conservative”—at least not regarding most issues related to politics. But there’s more to life than politics: I remain old-fashioned on the issue of prescriptive versus descriptive dictionaries (strongly believing in the former) and the misuse of the designated hitter in major league baseball (not at CONTINUE READING

are there supposed to be spaces between the dots in an ellipsis?

EVERY READER OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE has seen those three dots in the midst of an otherwise normal sentence that tells them something special is happening. These dots are called an ‘ellipsis’ and are usually associated with text quoted from another source. Most readers know that these dots indicate that words in the original text CONTINUE READING

Why I Capitalize Every Word In Every Title

I CAPITALIZE EVERY WORD in every title that I write in the text sections of my books and essays. That includes capitalizing the definite and indefinite articles and those perky prepositions! I always have and no doubt I always will. I do this for several reasons, which I share here in a gesture of bonhomie. CONTINUE READING

far out! I’m another blog’s blog of the month!

LAST YEAR, I published an article titled “on william strunk and elements of style (and concise vigorous writing) here on Neal Umphred Dot Com. It’s as boring as the title makes it sound—you’d have to give a damn about the most important figure and the most important book in the history of CONTINUE READING

can you be “electrified” by a slam dunk victory?

I PUT DOWN MY MUG OF COFFEE and reached into my desk drawer and dexterously pulled out my miniature samurai-sword letter-opener with the dropbear-tooth handle. After staring into space for a few seconds and mumbling, “That’s not a knife—this is a knife,” I took a few swipes in front of me with the foot-long CONTINUE READING

the hyphen/forward-slash conundrum resolved

MY PREVIOUS ARTICLE ON DASHES was titled “On Those Pesky Dashes As Punctuation Marks” and addressed the em-dash (—), the en-dash (–), and the hyphen (-). It should have included some suggestions on the proper use of the forward leaning slash (/). After all, graphically the forward-slash, or virgule, is just an upright, CONTINUE READING

on those pesky dashes as punctuation marks

USE OF THE DASH FOR PUNCTUATION is a lost art in contemporary American English (AmE) and British English (BrE) for many writers and apparently many typesetters. It’s a shame, as a well-placed dash or ten can ease the flow of reading and therefore lead to increased understanding and pleasure. Here I address the way that CONTINUE READING