How to write for an Encyclopedia or other reference work

From time to time, many of us will have the opportunity to write for a reference work like an encyclopedia or a handbook. The word encyclopedia has been around for a couple of thousand years and
From time to time, many of us will have the opportunity to write for a reference work like an encyclopedia or a handbook. The word encyclopedia has been around for a couple of thousand years and [More]

Quotes make me shudder

The practice of using punctuation to indicate verbatim speech seems to have had its origins in the diple, a caret-like ancient Greek marking used to call attention to part of a text. By the late
The practice of using punctuation to indicate verbatim speech seems to have had its origins in the diple, a caret-like ancient Greek marking used to call attention to part of a text. By the late [More]

How to Begin and End Paragraphs

We should pay more attention to paragraphs. I know that sounds obvious, but what I’m fretting about is the advice that beginning writers get to begin paragraphs with topic sentences and end with
We should pay more attention to paragraphs. I know that sounds obvious, but what I’m fretting about is the advice that beginning writers get to begin paragraphs with topic sentences and end with [More]

How to write about theatre performances

It’s the theatre season in my town of Ashland, Oregon, and I’m keeping up with the play reviews and talking with reviewers about what makes a good review. Reviewing a play is different than
It’s the theatre season in my town of Ashland, Oregon, and I’m keeping up with the play reviews and talking with reviewers about what makes a good review. Reviewing a play is different than [More]

How to use repetition

A couple times a week, I hear someone remark “It is what it is,” accompanied by a weary sigh. I always puzzle over the expression a little bit, thinking What else could it be? The post How to use
A couple times a week, I hear someone remark “It is what it is,” accompanied by a weary sigh. I always puzzle over the expression a little bit, thinking What else could it be? The post How to use [More]

For want of a comma

The Oxford Comma, so named because it first appeared in the 1905 Oxford University Press Style Guide, is the comma that comes before the word and in a series of three or more listed items. Also
The Oxford Comma, so named because it first appeared in the 1905 Oxford University Press Style Guide, is the comma that comes before the word and in a series of three or more listed items. Also [More]

How and when to quote

I have a confession to make. I often skip the long blocks of quotes when I am reading academic articles and books. I suspect that I'm not the only one who does this. I don't skip the quotes because
I have a confession to make. I often skip the long blocks of quotes when I am reading academic articles and books. I suspect that I'm not the only one who does this. I don't skip the quotes because [More]

How to write dialogue

I'm sitting at my computer early in the morning and my wife walks in. "Good morning," she says. "Is there any more coffee?" I nod. "Do you want some?" I answer. "I'll get it," she says. "What are
I'm sitting at my computer early in the morning and my wife walks in. "Good morning," she says. "Is there any more coffee?" I nod. "Do you want some?" I answer. "I'll get it," she says. "What are [More]

The language of chess

The dust has barely settled on last year’s world chess championship match in New York: Norway’s Magnus Carlson defended his title again the tough challenger Sergei Karjakin, in a close match. The
The dust has barely settled on last year’s world chess championship match in New York: Norway’s Magnus Carlson defended his title again the tough challenger Sergei Karjakin, in a close match. The [More]

Understanding insults

When I was growing up in New Jersey, trading insults was part of making your way through the middle school: “If they put your brain on the edge of a razor blade, it would look like a BB rolling down
When I was growing up in New Jersey, trading insults was part of making your way through the middle school: “If they put your brain on the edge of a razor blade, it would look like a BB rolling down [More]