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    Anytime vs. Any time

    I ran into this question today when responding to a business letter. It turns out either is fine when used as an adverb. From the Grammerly blog:


    A century ago, it was standard to write any time as two words in all contexts. But it’s now perfectly acceptable to write anytime as one word when you’re using it as an adverb. However, some readers still consider it a casualism, so you may want to stick to the two-word version for extremely formal writing.

    • When in doubt, write any time as two words. It might look a little old-fashioned, but it won’t be wrong.
    • Anytime is an adverb that means “whenever” or “at any time.” You can use it like you would any other adverb: Call me anytime. Call me often. Call me quickly.
    • You can’t use anytime with a preposition like at. If you have a preposition, you need the two-word version: They could call at any time.
    • You also need the two-word version when you’re talking about an amount of time: Do you have any time to speak to us today? Continue here...

    A Checklist for Self-Editing

    It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” –Sun Tzu

    Sun was known more for his prowess in guiding troops rather than putting pen to paper. However, was no slouch when it came to documenting strategies for the benefit of others who chase success, whether on the battlefield or in the boardroom, as evidenced by his literary classic “The Art of War.” Knowing ourselves, along with all our shortcomings and weaknesses, can be a key component of clear and competent writing.

    Few writers enjoy the process of editing their own work. They would much rather pass that task on to someone else. However, this option is not always available and so the scribe must do double duty as writer and editor. This is a process fraught with pitfalls. Thankfully, Dan Shewan at Business2Community.com came up with some helpful pointers for those times when we have to edit our own work. First among his suggestions: “Identify and avoid your crutches.”


    Maybe all those typos aren't entirely your fault

    Can you read the paragraph below? If so, you have demonstrated why it is so easy for editors and writers to miss typographical errors in English text.

    This article by Esther Inglis-Aell explains how your brain tricks you into thinking you are reading recognizable words even when they are spelled incorrectly. 


    Today's writing tip: What is Effective Academic Writing?

    Today's writing tip comes from the James Cook University Graduate Research School. 

    Differences in speaking and writing

    Effective communication on paper is not the same as communicating through speech. Written communication follows different rules of logic, layout, conciseness and clarity which is not expected in speech. Learn these structures and format, and anyone can write clearly and effectively.

     Good writing and critical thinking work together

    Writing is not separate from thinking: we cannot think through really complex problems and solve them mentally. We certainly cannot communicate to others our mental understandings of solutions unless we use sequential words. If you want a critically sophisticated argument/thesis, then you need to learn how to draft and edit your work.

     A thesis is not your results; it is a whole story

    We need to think about what the reader needs to know, not just think about describing the results. Good writers learn to stand back from their work and see it as others need to see it. They tell the whole story and not just one aspect...

    You can find the complete article here.


    Hyphenated Headlines and Capitalization

    Headlines and titles are one of those tricky grey areas where it is difficult to find a consistent set of rules, particularly when it comes to capitalization and hyphenation. Today at the magazine, we came across the question of whether to capitalize both elements of the word "Eco-friendly” in a headline.

    My instinct was to capitalize it in the way it appears in the previous sentence, with "e" in eco up and the "f" in friendly down. Another editor pointed out that in a previous issue we had capitalized “Picture-Perfect” with the “p” in each word “up.”

    Why capitalize both elements in one instance but only the first element in another. Had we made a mistake with "Picture-Perfect?"

    Usually we follow the AP manual of style on such questions, but AP rules mostly apply to newspapers. Magazines can follow less ridged guidelines, as long as they are consistentThis website was somewhat helpful in breaking down the different approaches to the question of whether to capitalize just the first word, or both words, but it didn’t provide a definitive answer. In the end, I went to my colleague — who just happens to be the office guru on all things grammatical. She had a slightly different take. 

    She pointed out the Chicago Manual of Style is fairly clear on this question. If both elements are stand-alone words, capitalize both. Such is the case with "Picture-Perfect." However, as Merriam-Webster points out, eco- only exists as a combining form and cannot stand alone. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, if both words can't stand alone then the second element is not capitalized in a headline or title. So, as luck would have it, both "Eco-friendly" and "Picture-Perfect" are correct in titles and headlines, according to Chicago

    It is worth pointing out that magazines typically take a lot of leeway, more than newspapers, in creating their own house styles. That's fine, of course, but in such cases consistency is critical. In our case, we could argue that we were being consistent in applying Chicago style with the two examples of capitalization.