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Monday, October 15, 2012

My Pet Peeves: From the N Entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Here's the 12th in my alphabetical series of pet peeves--from entries in the N section of Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. My style manual covers editorial issues like abbreviations, addresses, capitalization, English grammar, Internet terminology, numbers, plurals, possessives, punctuation, spelling and word usage. It focuses on U.S. standards for spelling, punctuation, definitions, usage, style and grammar.

Earlier blogs:

A peeves | B peeves | C peeves | D peeves | E peeves | F peeves | G peeves | H peeves | I peeves | J peeves | K & L peeves | M peeves

near miss, near-miss A near miss (without a hyphen) is a miss that is near, like a blue jacket is a jacket that is blue. But near-miss (with a hyphen) is a hit. Avoid confusion by using near-collision (with a hyphen) instead of near miss when describing a narrowly averted collision.

neither When used on its own without nor, make the verb singular: Neither of the men was ready.

nevertheless Overstated. Simplify. Try even so, but, yet, still or however.

new development, new improvement, new initiative, new innovation, new introduction Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Drop new.

nice It has many meanings, including "finicky," "precise and subtle," "delicate," and "scrupulous." And it's commonly used to mean "friendly, pretty, courteous, respectable or good." If you mean one of those words -- or any of the other definitions of nice -- be nice to your readers and use one of them. Or describe why you think something is "nice" He volunteers at the dog shelter; not He's niceTheir house has indoor plumbing; not Their house is nice.

No. Use as the abbreviation for number when used with a figure, in both singular and plural forms: the No. 3 choice, invoice Nos. 4311 and 5207, lot No. 23, apartment No. 6. Don't use the number symbol or sign, #, to stand for No. or number.

noncontroversial All issues are controversial. A noncontroversial issue is impossible. A controversial issue is redundant.

none are, none is Both phrases are correct, depending on the noun that follows them (or the understood noun if you're not naming it). If that noun is plural, use a plural verb; if it's singular, use a singular verb. Thus: Of the eight applicants, none of them are qualified. Every child went to the haunted house, and none [of them] are returning. None of the applicant's proposal was persuasive. None of it is safe for children. If the noun form is unclear, use a singular verb.

none at all Redundant. Replace with none.

notify Formal. Simplify. Use tell instead.

not only ... but also Balance the sentence grammatically when using this phrase. If a prepositional phrase follows not only, for example, a prepositional phrase should follow but also. Correct: The fall in the birthrate varies not only from city to city but also from area to area. Incorrect: Not only does the fall in the birthrate vary from city to city but also from area to area.

nuclear, nuke Potentially misused. George W. Bush and some other U.S. presidents have mispronounced nuclear. But just because presidents say something doesn't make it true or correct. (Think WMD in Iraq.) It's "noo-klee-ar," not "noo-kyuh-lar." And spell it correctly too; it's not nucular

Also, casual use of the slang word nuke for nuclear minimizes the death and destruction that would come after use of nuclear weapons. Avoid using nuke whether you're writing about attacking with nuclear weapons or cooking with a microwave oven.

numbers Spell out most whole numbers below 10. Use figures for 10 and above: five, nine, 15, 650. [There are exceptions to this general advice. The numbers entry in my style manual includes more advice, but it deserves its own blog posting.] If you're not already doing so, use the number 1 key on your computer keyboard to create the number 1. Don't use the old-fashioned, potentially odd-looking lowercase L key to create the number l

numerous Overstated. Simplify. Try many, or be specific.

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