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Monday, December 3, 2012

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

Here's the 20th in my alphabetical series of pet peeves--from entries in the V 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 | U peeves

vehicle Overstated, vague jargon. Simplify. Be specific if possible. If it's a car, write car or even Toyota Celica. If it's a bus, write bus or trolley bus or Greyhound bus. If it's truck, write truck or pickup truck or tow truck. And so on.

venue Pretentious, vague jargon, unless you're using the legal expression change of venue. Simplify. Be specific when possible. If it's a theater, write theater. If it's a stadium, write stadium. And so on, or use words like location, place, setting or site

verbiage Sometimes misused and misspelled. It's "an excess of words," not simply "words, diction" or "wording." Consider using simpler wordiness instead. But if you must use it, don't misspell it as verbage, and don't use the redundant excess verbiage

verbs A verb is a word that expresses existence, action or occurrence.

Follow this spelling rule when adding ed and ing to form the present participle and past tense of a verb: If the stress in pronunciation is on the first syllable, do not double the consonant: offer, offered, offering. If the stress in pronunciation is on the second syllable, double the consonant unless confusion would result.

Use a singular verb form after each, either, everybody, everyone, neither, nobody, no one, somebody, someoneAlthough both candidates oppose the tax cut, neither has said much about it. No one in my work group likes his policies. 

Use a plural verb when the word and joins two or more nouns in a compound subject. Exceptions to this rule include compound subjects qualified by each or every and certain familiar compound phrases, often cliches: Every engineer and planner in the company is getting a bonus. Fish and chips is one of his favorite meals.

A singular subject takes singular verbs even if it is connected to other nouns by along with, as well as, at least, besides, except, in addition to, no less than, together with and with: The artist, together with her roommates, is donating her earnings to the charity. 

very Use very only when its emphasis isn't already suggested in the word(s) it's modifying. Using it may be redundant, if not silly: Her death was very tragic. Where emphasis is necessary, use stronger, more descriptive words or be more precise: Her death at age 17 was tragic

Veterans Day No apostrophe according to the U.S. statute establishing the legal holiday. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly the Veterans Administration, also takes no apostrophe.

via It means "by way of" [a place], not "by means of." Use via (or simpler through or by) to show the direction of a journey: Their trip went from Seattle to Cancun via Houston. Don't use via to show the means by which someone makes a journey: She made the trip via train. Instead: She made the trip by train

viable It means "capable of living." Overused and misused in references to options, alternatives, plans, products and actions. Instead, consider dropping it or using feasible, lasting, workable, possible, practical or promising.

vice versa Two words. Sometimes misused. It means "just the opposite" or "the other way around," not "something different." If your readers could misunderstand the Latin phrase, try try using in reverse, just the opposite or the other way around.

virgule (/) Avoid using the virgule--also called a slashforward slashdiagonal or slant--to stand for omitted words or letters. Examples include per in 33,000 tons/year, to in price/earnings ratioor inhis/her and oral/written testsversus in parent/child issues, with in table/mirrorw/o for without andc/o for in care of

The virgule may replace and in some compound terms: the Vancouver/Portland area, the January/February issue, an active classroom/laboratory. Using and, however, may be less ambiguous. 

When using the virgule, don't separate the punctuation mark from adjacent words or numbers with spaces. Also, avoid using virgules (or hyphens) with numerals to give dates, especially if your readers could confuse the order of the day and month: 2/11/94, 11-16-1993.

The virgule may be used to separate the numerator from the denominator in numbers containing fractions.

Use the virgule--or forward slash--in Internet addresses: Use the backslash(one word)--\--for writing commands in DOS and computer directories.

virtually Overstated. Try omitting, or use simpler almost or nearly instead.

vis-a-vis Vague foreign term. Simplify. Replace with face to face, opposite, compared with, against or about.

visible to the eye Visualize this redundant phrase without to the eye.

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