Another Easy-for-me Post

rogersgeorge on December 4th, 2017

(See how I did that three-word compound adjective there?)

I happen to own a copy of the US government’s official style guide, the USGPO Style Guide. It’s pretty good, and if you write, and can afford a copy, I recommend it. It’s called the US Government Publishing Office Style Manual, and you can download a pdf of it, but I recommend buying a copy from Amazon or any of a couple other sources, including the US Government Printing Office. Google it.

All that to mention that the NSA of all places also has a style guide of sorts, and you can find info about it here. This is a link to a post that mentions several related grammar guides and such belonging to the NSA.

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-STYLEMANUAL-2008/content-detail.html

Check it out.

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A Writing Test

rogersgeorge on March 22nd, 2017

Here are some sentences I found, all written by professionals, all on line, that contain mistakes or bad writing. Can you identify the things that need fixing or improving? I’m pretty sure that I have mentioned each type of mistake at least once before in The Writing Rag. I’ll make you a deal—you might win ten bucks!

Send me an email at curmudgeon@writing-rag.com listing your answers. I’ll use PayPal to send ten dollars to the email address of the first person who answers them all correctly. You have to give the reason why you answered the way you did for number 10.

Only about four people ever read this blog, so your odds are pretty good! I promise not to collect the addresses or use them for anything.

  1. “The technology,” he wrote, “is not limited to only aviation.”
  2. Best known of the two is Enrico Fermi, the Italian intellectual giant who escaped from fascist Italy to America after winning a Nobel Prize for his research in nuclear physics.
  3. On February 23, 1997, NBC broadcast the film in its three-and-a-half-hour entirety, uncut and uninterrupted by commercials, as per Spielberg’s request.
  4. Who do you think you match with?
  5. 1856   The Republican Party holds it’s first national meeting.  (© Ducksters.  I wasn’t going to embarrass them, but they put a copyright symbol on it. Used without permission)
  6.  It is now hoped that the system could be combined with the use of pheromones that lampreys use to attract mates.
  7. This weed includes the most vitamin A than all green leafy vegetables, which prevents cancer, and is abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids, so it effectively prevents heart diseases and stroke.
  8. It is more cost-effective by only utilizing more expensive authentication when warranted by the risk.
  9. It’s easier to implement than you may have thought.
  10. Sensitive personal data including cookies, API keys, and passwords has been leaked by web optimization giant Cloudflare.
  11. So, the Rangers are based out of Igloolik.
  12. So what does a potential new state of matter for the rest of us?
  13.  Indiana law explicitly forbids government employees such as the Governor to conduct politics on state accounts, so it’s credible to argue Pence had no other options.
  14. “The Church and State owes them all an apology,” she said.
  15. It stands in stark contrast with a pair of current cartoons by fairly mainstream conservative cartoonists that mock Democrats for being obsessed with the Russian connections.
  16. It was about 3 or 4 feet long, looked like a long piece of linguine (same color, similar width), except if you looked a little carefully, it was actually comprised of connected rhomboid like sections. [this one has two goofs, not counting that the 3 and 4 should be spelled out. Find both.]
  17. While China is beginning to assemble its own tunnel-boring machines, it still relies on critical, foreign-made components that its own industries can’t manufacture on its own. [first word should be “Although” or “Whereas,” but I’m looking for a different goof.]
  18. Clicking Refresh Catalog in the catalog, updates the usage information.
  19. The amount of tabs you have open at any one time has a direct impact on the performance of Chrome, as well as how much RAM the application consumes.
  20. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with.

There you have it! Good luck!

 

Unexpected Grammar Curmudgeon

rogersgeorge on July 21st, 2016

Well, punctuation curmudgeon. It’s Linus Torvalds, the writer (inventor? developer? founder?) of the computer language Linux. I didn’t expect this from him. In fact, I tend to feel that computer languages manage their own grammar and punctuation by not working if you do it wrong.  He recently expressed an opinion about commenting. Comments in computer code are passages for humans to read, that presumably explain what’s going on, but the code itself doesn’t need them. You tell the computer that a passage is a comment with punctuation (that varies from language to language) at the beginning and end of the comment. Here’s a summary of what he said:

He likes this:

/* This is a comment */

He also approves of this:

/*
* This is also a comment, but it can now be cleanly
* split over multiple lines
*/

But he disapproves of this:

(no)
/* This is disgusting drug-induced
* crap, and should die
*/

(no-no-no)
/* This is also very nasty
* and visually unbalanced */

“I’m not even going to start talking about the people who prefer to ‘box in’ their comments, and line up both ends and have fancy boxes of stars around the whole thing,” he adds. “I’m sure that looks really nice if you are out of your mind on LSD, and have nothing better to do than to worry about the right alignment of the asterisks.”

You get the idea. His original essay was quite a bit spicier, and not suitable for a family blog such as this one. If you follow the link, you can start right below the horizontal line.

 

Writing well—can you do it?

rogersgeorge on January 24th, 2009

Quick answer: YES! Long answer: Yes, and you need to.

When you write well, any of several good things happen. You want these, right?

  • People do what you tell them.
  • They believe what you say.
  • They respect you and consider you an expert.
  • They keep reading.
  • They might even enjoy reading what you write.

And if you write poorly, any of several bad things will happen (not might happen, will happen). Would you exert any effort to prevent these?

  • Some readers will look down their noses at you.
  • Some will misunderstand you, perhaps with disastrous results.
  • You will bore, frustrate, irritate some readers.
  • You will lose some readers—they’ll stop reading.

You’ll create some kind of effect now matter how you write. May as well try for the effect you want, right?

  • Maybe you want to move someone to action (such as buy something), or
  • You might need to demonstrate that you know something (term paper).
  • Perhaps you need to tell someone what to do (“type your email address and click the button”);
  • How about an effective warning? (“Do not attach the wires until you are 100 feet from the explosives”)
  • You get the idea.

What is good writing? (This is a pretty high level definition, but you need to start from here:) Good writing creates the effect you want in your reader. You need to write well. Period.

Don’t let nightmares from junior high English drag you down—good writing is not that hard to do.

Want to do it? You can.

One of the best things about good writing is that it’s not an all-or-nothing thing. Every improvement you make makes a difference. If you don’t know it all, that’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to head in that direction. The most effective techniques are easy.

Grab these five easy techniques. They’re free. Start to follow them; you’ll be a better writer.

Fill in the form up on the right. (Or the one below.) I’ll let you in on the five easy, effective techniques, for FREE.

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