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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Some Pet Peeves of Editorial Style -- In Alphabetical Order: The B Section

Here's the second in my alphabetical series of pet peeves -- from entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. Here's my blog on A peeves.




back Sometimes used redundantly after verbs like refer, repay, return and revertHe referred back to the events on Tuesday. Drop back.

backward Not backwards.

based on, based upon Wordy. Simplify. Consider deleting or change to by, for, from, because of, after, in, on, through or with. Or use based on, not based upon--and not based around either. Also, avoid phrases like based on my personal opinion or based on the fact that. Instead, use phrases like I contend and I believe, if necessary, or terms like because, considering, for, given, in that and since.

basically Overused and often unnecessary. Simplify. Delete or try mainly, most, mostly, chiefly or largely. And if you must use it, spell it right. Basicly is not a word.

basis Wordy, pompous jargon in phrases like on the basis ofon a day-to-day basis andon a regular basis. Simplify. Replace on the basis of with because of, by or for. Also, usedailyregularlypart-time and similar adverbs instead of on a day-to-day basis, on a regular basis, on a part-time basis and so on.

bay A clear, simple word. An embayment is a bay with two more syllables and six more letters; use embayment only when you're paid, graded or judged superficially on the number of letters you use in a document


beg the question Often misused or confused. Use this cliche only when you're questioning the logic of another statement--that it assumes as true the very point someone is trying to prove. This statement, for example, begs the question: We had to attack first to prevent him from attacking us. Don't use beg the question to suggest that someone is evading an issue or raising another question. But reduce confusion by avoiding the phrase. Instead, explain why you question the logic.

between ... and, from ... to Don't mix these phrases like this: daily wages between $118 to $176 or from 1993 and 1996. It's either between $118 and $176 or from $118 to $176 and from 1993 to 1996 or between 1993 and 1996. Also, avoid replacing the to with a hyphen or em dash in from ... to phrases: He was chair from 1994-98. Instead: He was chair from 1994 to 1998. The hyphen or em dash substitute is OK in adjectival uses: his 1994-98 stint as chair, her Jan. 10-15 trip to Europe

biannual, biennial Biannual means "twice a year"; so does semiannual. Biennial means "every two years." But to avoid confusing readers, use twice a year instead of biannual(and semiannual), and use every two years instead of biennial.


big in size Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Drop in size.

biweekly Does not mean twice a week. Semiweekly means twice a week. To avoid reader confusion, use every two weeks or every other week instead of biweekly (andtwice a week instead of semiweekly).

blue in color Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Drop in color.

bring, take Often confused. Their meaning is similar, but their points of view are different. Bring suggests motion toward the speaker or writer: We bring in the mail. If something is coming to your home or office or city, someone is bringing it. Take suggests motion away from the speaker or writer: We take out the recycling. If something is leaving your home or office or city, someone is taking it. Usually, the distinction is easy to make. But it might be best just to say what feels natural to you if you are offering dessert for a potluck dinner: You'll be bringing it to the potluck (its destination), but you'll betaking it with you from home (its origin). Either way, it'll probably be delicious!

bus, buses The verb forms: bus, bused, busing for the transit vehicles. Save buss, busses, bussed and bussing for kissing your sweetie before he or she boards a bus.


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