Questions tagged [writing-style]

Questions about the writing style of a particular sentence, phrase or construction in English. Questions asking for advice on writing style are off-topic.

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15
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3answers
1k views

Difference between styles of English in technical communication

I have a collaborative software project with two other users. Nearly every technical report and documentation written goes through the following editorial changes to some of the sentences (examples ...
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8answers
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Should we use “in terms of”?

I have came across this reference: https://www.e-education.psu.edu/styleforstudents/c3_p35.html This phrase is virtually meaningless, but we often hear it on the news and in bloated speeches. “In ...
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1answer
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If I use the word “enumerated”, must the list be numeric or can it be bullet points?

If I use the word "enumerated" in writing, must the list I am enumerating be numeric or can it be bullet points?
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4answers
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Is it appropriate to add a postscript to an email? [closed]

Wikipedia says: A postscript may be a sentence, a paragraph, or occasionally many paragraphs added to, often hastily and incidentally, after the signature of a letter or (sometimes) the main body ...
14
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4answers
97k views

How would you properly show deletion of unnecessary text in a quote?

I assumed you would use dots to show left-out unnecessary text in a quote, such as in The definition of used oil is "oil ... that is xyz". The deleted portion is non-useful text that would confuse ...
14
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2answers
32k views

To hyphenate or not?

As a non-native speaker of English and an engineer by training, I always get confused about hyphenation and almost always end up referring to Google every time I need to make that decision. Does ...
14
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2answers
2k views

Ellipsis that results in one word serving as both subject and object

Quoting from Jeff Atwood's blog: [I expanded the team] by adding Kevin, who I didn't know, but had built amazing stuff for us without even being asked to, from Texas. And again by adding Robert, ...
14
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4answers
125k views

“Henceforth” vs. “hereinafter”

What is the most suitable way to express that a sentence/word will be "replaced by" another sentence/word, from that point (in a text, for instance)? Henceforth called/named... Hereinafter ...
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4answers
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Is it CoViD? Or COVID? Covid? How should the word be spelled?

I have seen it spelled COVID-19, but I have also seen Covid-19. In addition, I believe I have seen CoViD-19, capitalising only the first letter of each word from which it was abbreviated (for it isn't ...
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5answers
4k views

Should I write Orwell's '1984' in full? [closed]

Should I write 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', when discussing George Orwell's novel in an essay, or '1984'? Is it considered unconventional, or overly colloquial to use the latter form? This question ...
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7answers
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Is using “and/or” recommended for formal writing, or is it frowned upon?

Is using "and/or" allowed in formal writing? If not, is there general way to represent the OR binary operator with as little space as possible in written English?
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7answers
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My English translator capitalizes every noun. Is it correct? [closed]

I'm developing an Android/iPhone application. My translator for English localization uses a lot of capitalization. For example, in the app menu, it suggests: |Export Data to Folder| |Prevent Screen ...
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7answers
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Is “to boil down” formal enough to be used in scientific writing? [closed]

The phrase to boil down to something can be found in most dictionaries. However, to me, it sounds colloquial to write Finding an exact solution to Eq. 1 boils down to ... A real-life example ...
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4answers
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Oxford Comma Conventions

According to the Wikipedia page for the Oxford Comma, "Use of the comma is consistent with conventional practice" and "Use of the comma is inconsistent with conventional practice." Did the Oxford ...
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3answers
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Is it considered good style to use “relatedly” to start a sentence?

I sometimes like to start sentences with “Relatedly,”, as you might start them with “besides”, “however”, “furthermore,” and so on. (“Like” in that I find the word practical and concise. It could be ...
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6answers
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fait accompli – to italicize, or not to italicize

Background I was looking up the rule about italicizing foreign phrases and found an apparent consensus that the criterion is if the phrase is familiar. Well, who gets to decide that? I know perfectly ...
12
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7answers
72k views

When writing out large numbers in words, should commas be placed at thousand separators?

Would a number, say, 5,629,296 be written with commas: Five million, six hundred twenty nine thousand, two hundred ninety six or without commas: Five million six hundred twenty nine ...
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2answers
60k views

“Prerequisite for” vs. “prerequisite to”

When is it appropriate to use "prerequisite for" instead of "prerequisite to"? Does it depend on context, or is it a matter of style? I googled the two phrases and found 4.5 million hits for "...
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2answers
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“Regards” vs. “Best regards” vs. “With regards” [closed]

Which of the three phrases in the concluding phrase is most appropriate when sending a work-related email? Could the three be ranked in terms of their overall level of formality?
12
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1answer
526 views

What is wrong with using e.g.? [duplicate]

I am currently using devd/Academic-Writing-Check for my master thesis in computer science. One thing it complains about is the usage of e.g.. What is wrong with that? For example, I wrote: 1. In the ...
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4answers
86k views

What is the abbreviation for 'century'?

I remember being taught in history classes to abbreviate century by writing a large capital C followed by the ordinal number as in: C18th without the full-stop (period). Recently I have noticed on ELU ...
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2answers
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How should lists of questions be punctuated?

If one wishes to pose a series of questions in the form of a list, how would one go about punctuating that list? For example: I write to a colleague asking for an update on a project he is working ...
12
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1answer
2k views

Writing the most important part of a sentence (at the end, between parentheses)

I've seen this writing style several times, where the most important part of a sentence - or a twist - is put at the end between parentheses. This is typically used in titles and gives the sentence an ...
12
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0answers
321 views

What's it called when someone starts a well-known saying but doesn't finish it? [duplicate]

Often times in a TV show that I watch and love, Supernatural, the big bads use quotes and sayings to further their point. For example, Crowley, the current King of Hell at the time, replied to Dean, ...
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11answers
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“Gassy emissions from these giant dinosaurs” vs. “… by these giant dinosaurs”

Reading a science article on Huffington Post, titled "Dinosaur Farts, Prehistoric Climate Change Linked In New Methane Gas Study", I came across the following sentence: The gassy emissions from ...
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3answers
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Does the abbreviation for Saint in a church name require a period?

In referring to a local church, does the name "St Giles" require a period after the "St"? I was told that to add a period confuses it with the abbreviation for street.
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3answers
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How should a multiple-word noun be punctuated within a compound adjective? [duplicate]

I would like to use a noun made of multiple words (like particle board, Mount Everest, or windscreen wiper) in a compound adjective with a hyphen. But I don't know how to hyphenate such a composition....
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4answers
80k views

In a written work, is it better to reference people by their first or last name?

In a work, when you introduce someone by their full name and later refer to them in a context which is not appropriate for a pronoun, do you use their first or last name? Example: "Eli Whitney is ...
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2answers
3k views

How to add emphasis to a modal verb?

To add emphasis to a normal verb, we use the emphatic "do": He does run fast. Do come in. Do brush your teeth. Obviously, with modal verbs this would be a grave mistake: (*) He ...
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9answers
6k views

When is it acceptable to use Internet abbreviations such as “u” or “r”?

In my business communication over Internet text messengers, for example Google Talk or Skype, I see that many people often use shorten words like u instead of you, r instead of are and the like. How ...
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6answers
12k views

Using ellipsis to indicate a pause in conversation

Wikipedia has a sentence in its article on ellipsis: In reported speech, the ellipsis is sometimes used to represent an intentional silence, perhaps indicating irritation, dismay, shock or disgust. ...
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5answers
38k views

How to use “used to use”?

Is it correct to say something like this? I used to use the knife to open things like cans.
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2answers
1k views

Is “Black” correct, incorrect, or could it be used as either “Black” or “black”? [duplicate]

I was reading an article that I was assigned by my professor, and I came across the following: “We’re the ones getting killed,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is Black, said in an ...
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1answer
24k views

Should I capitalise the first letter when a sentence starts with a number?

When starting a sentence with a number, should the first letter be capitalised? For example, 96% Real meat. or 96% real meat.
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5answers
779 views

Pronoun in English without specific referent

Writing academic essays in English can be a daunting task for the EFL writer (my native language is German), but for me a very specific problem gives me headaches and leaves me sitting with a smoking ...
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7answers
1k views

There is no question that you will not misunderstand this sentence

The MacMillan Dictionary has the following definition for the phrase 'there is no question that': used for saying that something is definitely true It gives the example: There is no question ...
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3answers
5k views

Can I say this in English: “Hard- and Software”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Use of hyphens when writing repeated compound words that has common parts In German we can use a hyphen as indication that there is a continuation of the current word ...
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3answers
20k views

“Conformity” vs. “conformance”

I am curious about the differences in meaning, connotations, style, and correctness of using conformity vs conformance. I haven't been able to find much using a simple web search, only a single un-...
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3answers
11k views

Is there an “Oxford semicolon”?

I must admit that I don't use semicolon lists very often. (In some instances, I probably should have.) I will also admit that I'm neither-here-nor-there with the use of an Oxford comma. Sometimes I ...
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3answers
18k views

Dropping the second “the” in sentences: the X and the Y vs. the X and Y

Is there any difference between these two examples? 1. (Both) the Senate and the House of Representatives are legislative bodies. 2. (Both) the Senate and House of Representatives are ...
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0answers
8k views

Space before three dots? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the proper way of using triple dots and spaces before/after them? Should there be a space before three dots? Examples: I don't know if this is good... I don't know if ...
9
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9answers
819 views

Does calling a road 'wavy' convey its shape clearly?

There is a scene in which the road the car is on is straight at first, but later starts to wave about. By 'wave', I mean its shaped like this: Now my question is, if I write, "the road ahead started ...
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3answers
3k views

Bringing word into existence just by calling and using it [duplicate]

Sometimes, when I read essays, I see that writers make up words and by using them, they bring those words into existence. For example: In her article "Juban America", Ruth Behar uses the term "...
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8answers
17k views

Can you explain the sentence structure 'In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit'? Why put the verb before the subject?

The opening sentence to The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien reads, In a hole in the ground there lived [verb] a hobbit [subject]. I wonder if there are accepted stylistic purposes for such a structure. ...
9
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3answers
881 views

Capitalization of “Internet” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Should the words “internet” and “web” be capitalized? For the most part Internet is capitalized, less frequently it occurs uncapitalized. Is this a ...
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3answers
3k views

Where can I find a list of common padding words?

Like a lot of people, I actually have the habit of actually adding a lot of actual padding words when I actually write. A common one I use is actually. These are actually rarely worth keeping, ...
9
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4answers
48k views

Standard format for phone numbers? [closed]

I've recently noticed a wider variety in how phone numbers are presented, both in print and online, specifically with regard to spacing & punctuation. Examples: +1 (555) 123 4567 +1 (555) 123-...
9
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2answers
10k views

Can I write a comma followed by an em-dash?

We have in an 1858 court case: "A curious doctrine this,—a singular kind of subtraction,—to subtract crime from crime, and there remains nothing but innocence." It appears that we are no longer "...
9
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3answers
5k views

Are adverbs frowned upon in proper English (academic writing)?

I understand that "proper English" is vague, but what I mean is, are adverbs to be avoided in scholarly writing? For example, let's say that I am wanting to publish an article in scholarly magazine ...
9
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3answers
63k views

“to a degree” vs. “to an extent”

Is there a measurable difference in meaning between the phrases "to a degree" and "to an extent" (or "to some degree" and "to some extent")? Examples: To [some degree / some extent] that is a better ...

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