Behind the Style

Sins of Omission

Writers sometimes ask their readers to understand too much. Here are a few common problems and how to remedy them.

Singular or Plural? Sometimes, It Depends

When each part of a plural subject possesses something individually, the thing possessed must generally be in the plural as well. But in several cases, the thing possessed should be in the singular.

Quotes When Nothing Is Being Quoted

Authors often use quotation marks when nothing is being quoted. The marks may indicate irony, skepticism, derision—as such, they are sometimes called scare quotes.

To Splice or Not to Splice?

Writers should generally not use a comma to connect two independent clauses, and editors of fiction and nonfiction should be alert for them.

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Comma Sense

Some commas are needed to prevent misreading, some are harmful, and others are optional . . .

Effective Signposting

Writing or revising a paper? Get tips on building signposts to help articulate the structure of your argument . . .

Don’t Bury the Lede

If you habitually bury the lede in your sentences, you may eventually test the patience of your readers . . .

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