Ask the Editor

Last Seven Days

Answer

Yes, that's right.


Question from on June 21, 2018

Bless you(comma?) Dr. Patel for all you do.

Answer

Two commas: Bless you, Dr. Patel, for all you do.



Answer

I'd still argue that a comma would be wrong after 11 in that construction, since 320-pounder is essentially a noun modified by 6-foot-11. Since, indeed, you don't want the numbers to bump, make it 6-foot-11-inch ...

So, again, by far and away the best approach is to rewrite. That means 1) more clarity for readers and 2) less time unnecessarily spent on grammatical puzzles and 3) more time spent on endeavors contributing more to the greater good.


Answer

The cars need to be tuned up before the race.

Answer

As you might surmise, we could go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth on this one. In an AP story, we would simply rewrite to avoid this mess.

If it must be written, I would delete the comma after inch: The 6-foot, 11-inch 320-pounder ...

Or better:

The 6-foot-11-inch 320-pounder ...

And a happy summer to you!



Question from Chicago, IL on June 21, 2018

Should "black and white" be hyphenated? Ask Editor answers I see are conflicting (below, bolding added). I think a 2014 questioner tried to point this out:

QUESTION from New York on March 05, 2014
The answers you give for hyphenating black and white (or not) directly contradict each other. In one response you refer to the noun phrase "black and white photography" with no hyphs; in the next you say the identical formula takes hyphens. It can't be both.
ANSWER No, I referred to an agreement in black and white (no hyphens). However, the adjective preceding a noun is hyphenated: black-and-white photography. See entries in Webster's NWCD for both forms.
QUESTION from Plano, Ill. on June 04, 2013
ANSWER Yes, the adjective is hyphenated: black-and-white photography. The noun phrase is not: an agreement in black and white.
QUESTION from Marion, N.C. on Jan. 08, 2009
ANSWER The online version of the AP Stylebook includes some additional entries. Black and white photography, a noun phrase, isn't among the listings, though.

Answer

Indeed, the previous answers were contradictory. I've deleted them.

Per Webster's New World College Dictionary, hyphenate as a compound modifier before a noun: black-and-white photography. But: The photo is in black and white.


 black•-and-white 

 (blak´blak´ən) 

adj. 1 set down in writing or print 2 partly black and partly white [a black-and-white tie] 3 a) reproduced, rendered, etc. in black, white, and gray rather than in chromatic colors b) producing images in black, white, and gray 4 of, having to do with, or seen solely in terms of, polar opposites [a debater framing a complex issue in black-and-white terms] –n. 1 a black-and-white photograph 2 Informal a police patrol car 


 black and white


[[with reference to black letters on white paper]]  1 writing or print [to put an agreement down in black and white]  2 a drawing or picture done in black and white 3 reproduction, as by photography or television, of images in black, white, and gray rather than in chromatic colors


Answer

Three-year retention period.

Answer

Those look fine.

Answer

This gets a little complicated and there's not a good answer. The best solution is to split the sentence into two. That's much easier on the reader.

The system will solve the problem of people asking, “Where can I find this?” But users need guidance beyond this, especially with a new system or user.


Answer

It should be spelled out. So it's best to rewrite to avoid having to start with a number.

Answer

No hyphen is needed in that construction.

Answer

No hyphens in any of that; they're not needed for clarity. In late July 66 million years ago, we had a picnic.

Answer

We use http://www ... to ensure that the link is clickable. If you're writing for an online audience, it could be wise to do the same. Typically, web addresses are written in all lowercase.

Answer

In AP style, it's lowercase.

Answer

I'd hyphenate that, yes.

Answer

We don't have a specific style for that. My preference would be to spell out volume (note the spelling). But certainly it's often abbreviated as you have it.


Answer

No. We don't hyphenate that construction using percent.

Answer

 The dash, the semicolon, the colon, the question mark and the exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

So, the question mark goes outside the quotation marks in this case. I'd also delete the period:

Who once remarked, “Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions"?

Answer

Interesting question, and we don't have an established style for that. (That means there's no wrong answer!) I'm more inclined to use double quotation marks, for more clarity for readers. The idea of implied punctuation in the overall answer is probably a lot more obvious to us than to the average reader, who might be puzzled by single quote marks (which exist only to avoid having too many double quote marks). 

Answer

Indeed, it's off-puttingly and maddeningly inconsistent. But the English language is packed with such inconsistencies, sometimes for good or at least apparent reasons and other times just because of the way a certain word or phrase evolved in general usage.

My view on this one: If you were writing for a general audience that included readers in Florida, New York City and Minnesota (for example), I'd advise against mesatop because it could be off-puttingly unfamiliar and confusing and looks like some sort of isotope.

But for readers in Colorado, land of mountains and mesas, your reasoning makes sense. So you have at least my blessing, if that works. Enjoy your mountaintops and mesatops.



Answer

Webster's New World College Dictionary says:
universal implies applicability to every case or individual, without exception, in the class, category, etc. concerned [ a universal practice among primitive peoples

Thus, I'd class universal with unique or pregnant: Something can't be more universal or less universal or a little universal.

Answer

See my previous answer. The sentence is correct as written because the quote is preceded by that. 


Answer

Webster's New World College Dictionary, which is the Stylebook's official dictionary, makes it one word:

casework  n. social work in which the worker investigates a case of personal or family difficulty and gives advice and guidance —caseworker n. 

Answer

The second version is more commonly used.



Answer

The writer is correct in not using a comma after that and in not capitalizing space in this usage. Use of that in introducing a quote does indeed negate the need for either a comma or a capital letter.


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