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Monday, November 26, 2012

My Pet Peeves: From the U Entry in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Here's the 19th in my alphabetical series of pet peeves--from entries in the U 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 and L peeves | M peeves | N peeves | O peeves | P peeves | Q and R peeves | S peeves | T peeves

ultimate, ultimately Overstated. Simplify. Try most, final, last, best, crowning, perfect, supreme or eventual for ultimate and at last, in the end, finally, lastly, or eventually for ultimately.

unanimous Everyone agrees or votes the same way in a unanimous decision. Completely unanimous and entirely unanimous are redundant.

under fire Cliche. Save this phrase for writing about brave police officers and soldiers in battle. When politicians, business leaders, athletes and celebrities are being attacked, censured, criticized, scolded or reprimanded, say they're being attacked, censured, criticized, scolded, reprimanded or other similar terms.

undergraduate student Redundant. Simplify. Drop student or be more specific: first-year student, sophomore, junior, senior.

underlining When possible, use italic type instead of underlining for certain types of compositions. Also, avoid underlining text in publications and on the Web to stress words and phrases. Instead, use other options, including italicsboldfacecolor and size. Underlining cuts through the tails of several letters and punctuation marks--the comma, semicolon and letters g j p q y--making them harder to read. Also, on the Web people expect underlined text to be a hyperlink.

under the provisions of Wordy. Simplify. Replace entire phrase with under or by. Or use simpler rules or terms instead of provisions.

under way, underway Both are correct. But under way is commonly listed first in dictionaries and preferred in style manuals--for no logical reason: Construction is under way. Construction is underway. Choose one way or the other and use it consistently.

undoubtably Not a word. Use undoubtedly instead.

unique By definition, unique must be used sparingly. It means "one of a kind, without like or equal." It does not mean "unusual" or "uncommon." There can be no degrees of uniqueness. Nothing can be more, less, sort of, rather, quite, very, slightly or most unique. If you're describing more than one person, place or thing, none of them are unique. Remember: Uni- means one--and only one.

United Kingdom It's Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom. Great Britain (or Britain) consists of England, Scotland and Wales. If naming the location of specific places in any of those entities, be specific: London, England, not London, Great BritainEdinburgh, Scotland, not Edinburgh, BritainBelfast, Northern Ireland, not Belfast, United Kingdom.

unless or until Wordy. Simplify with either unless or until.

until such time (point) as Wordy. Simply. Replace with until.

up Idiom sometimes dictates use of up: We look up a word in the dictionary. Hard workers hope to move up in their careers. But don't use up when it's not necessary: We plan to tighten up the style guidelines. She ate up all the apple pie. Avoid those uses and others, such as buoy up, loosen up, ring up, use up, phone up and climb up. Also, if using an up term, avoid separating up from the base word with other words. 

up until (till) Wordy. Simplify. Drop up

usage, use, utilize, utilization Use is the preferred all-purpose word as a noun and verb. Usage means "habitual or preferred practice in certain fields, such as grammar, law and diplomacy." Utilize means "putting something to practical, effective use," but use is usually less pretentious and formal. Simplify. Try using useHe used the dishwasher. Not: He utilized the dishwasher. Need there be an explanation for using use instead of utilization?

used to Correct spelling when you mean "did at one time" or "formerly did": He used to watch silly TV shows. But it's use to in a question or a negative statement: Did Bernie use to watch silly TV shows? Bernie didn't use to avoid silly TV showsDid use is another way of saying used.

user friendly Vague jargon. Be more descriptive. For example: The instructions are easy to follow, not the instructions are user friendly.

us, we Sometimes confused. We and other "nominative" pronouns--including he, I, they and who--typically go before a verb as the subject of a sentence or clause (a group of words with a subject and a verb). Us and other "objective" pronouns--including her, him, me, them and whom--typically come after a verb or preposition. 

Also follow those rules when joining pronouns and other nouns with conjunctions like and and or. Examples: We contacted them. They responded to us. He cooperated with Tish and us. Federal officials will explain the new policy to state agencies, including us in the Department of Ecology.

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