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Friday, August 3, 2012

Is revolution on the way? | George Lakey, Waging Nonviolence

Author, activist and college professor George Lakey has published a new book, Toward a Living Revolution: A five-stage framework for creating radical social change. 

He writes:
The role that climate change will play in creating a revolutionary situation is worth thinking about. The question isn’t whether masses of people are at this moment worried about climate change — they’re not. But what happens when people connect the dots about extreme weather, increased food prices and increased costs for public transportation? Are parents who have to choose between heating their houses and feeding their children going to believe that the country’s leadership is doing okay, while their children’s schooling is being flushed down the toilet and medical costs continue to inflate? ...
As activists, we dance with history, and there’s no telling just when history will increase the pace of the dance. Instead of trying to guess by looking at today’s level of activity, it makes more sense to increase our thoughtfulness as we prepare for tomorrow. We need to consider rigorously — that is, strategically — whether protesting one-off summits like the G8 actually prepares for revolution or, as I believe, is a waste of time that could be better used for building actual campaigns.
Lakey has been a leader in the field of nonviolent social change since the 1960s. Founder and executive director of Training for Change, he has worked in the United States with mineworkers, steelworkers and civil rights leaders, and, internationally, with South African anti-apartheid activists and Cambodian human rights organizers. His books include A Manual for Direct Action, Powerful Peacemaking: A Strategy for a Living Revolution, and Grassroots and Nonprofit Leadership: A Guide for Organizations in Changing Times. His teaching includes stints at Swarthmore College, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, and Temple University.

This article is featured in today's (Aug. 3) Beyond Child's Play -- available at the Peace Now tab above and by free email subscription.

Tchaikovsky on Work Ethic vs. Inspiration | Brain Pickings

This article captured my interest for several reasons:
  • It's about creativity and what inspires it.
  • It's about music and writing. 
  • It's about what inspires or motivates musicians and other creative people.
  • It's about work and being inspired ... or not.
Mostly, the article quotes or links to Web articles or videos of several creative people.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 1840-93, Russian composer of Romeo and Juliet, the 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and other classical music:
Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. ...
Anne Lamott, 1954-, American novelist, nonfiction writer, political activist, public speaker and writing teacher:
You begin to string words together like beads to tell a story. You are desperate to communicate, to edify or entertain, to preserve moments of grace or joy or transcendence, to make real or imagined events come alive. But you cannot will this to happen. It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. So you might as well just go ahead and get started.
Nick Cave, 1957- , Australian musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional film actor:
Inspiration is a word used by people who aren’t really doing anything. I go into my office every day that I’m in Brighton and work. Whether I feel like it or not is irrelevant.
Ira Glass, 1959-, American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life:
The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work.
Jack White, 1975-, American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor; guitarist, pianist and lead vocalist of The White Stripes:
Inspiration and work ethic — they ride right next to each other …. Not every day you’re gonna wake up and the clouds are gonna part and rays from heaven are gonna come down and you’re gonna write a song from it. Sometimes, you just get in there and just force yourself to work, and maybe something good will come out.
This article is featured in today's (Aug. 3) Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Two spaces after a period: Why you should never, ever do it. | Farhad Manjoo, Slate Magazine

Manjoo gets really worked up on this typographical issue. He uses a lot of words to explain his argument. But he does so clearly.

Correct use of spaces between sentences is not just a typographical issue. It's also an issue of clarity and consistency in the use of punctuation, in the structure of sentences and paragraphs. And typography also is an issue of aesthetics -- what looks good to readers.

He writes:
Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It's one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.)
Two other respected and well-known manuals on my desk also recommend one space: the Associated Press Stylebook, the "bible" of many journalists and other professional writers, and the Gregg Reference Manual, often found in business and government offices.

Manjoo explains clearly why and how so many people learned to put two spaces after periods. It's all about the monospaced characters used by old-fashioned typewriters. In the olden days, every character in typewriters was the same width -- unlike the characters in typesetting equipment (even in the olden days).

Manjoo writes:
Monospaced type gives you text that looks "loose" and uneven; there's a lot of white space between characters and words, so it's more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read.
However, with modern typewriters, first, and then with with desktop computers and popular desktop publishing software, the proportional type fonts long used in publishing became available to every one. And so, the need for two spaces in monospaced typing should have disappeared.

But as Manjoo points out, some teachers continue to tell students to use two spaces -- and past typing students remember that instruction. He concludes:
The only reason today's teachers learned to use two spaces is because their teachers were in the grip of old-school technology. We would never accept teachers pushing other outmoded ideas on kids because that's what was popular back when they were in school. The same should go for typing. So, kids, if your teachers force you to use two spaces, send them a link to this article. Use this as your subject line: "If you type two spaces after a period, you're doing it wrong."
Here's what I advise on this topic in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:

spacing Put only one space after all punctuation marks--unless no space is needed, such as between adjacent punctuation marks and before and after a dash and a hyphen. This guideline applies to the colonperiod and other punctuation marks at the end of a sentence: exclamation pointquestion mark.

To prevent a person's initials from splitting between two lines of type, don't put a space between them: T.S. Eliot. Also, don't put spaces before or after hyphensdashes or virgules. But treat an ellipsis like a word, with a space before and after it.

Either put one space between paragraphs or indent paragraphs; doing both is usually redundant.

This article is featured in today's (Aug. 2) Garbl's Style: Write Choices -- available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

Commas explained! Comma corruption starts early | Inez Romanos, Information with Clarity

Referring to comma usage in a book her young son is reading, Romanez writes:
This travesty is being passed from one generation to another. I remember as if it were yesterday. I was in Primer 1, and kind Mrs Purdey was teaching us about punctuation. 'Put a comma wherever you want to take a breath,' she said.
Some of us breathe more often than others, and Beverley Randell must have been for a jog before she wrote about Mother Bear. Commas are there to separate clauses, to separate introductory phrases, and to separate items in a list. And that's it.
While calling it a "travesty" is an exaggeration, IMHO, Romanez makes an excellent point. If future writers are taught to put a comma wherever they feel like it -- the consequence of putting them "to take a breath" -- many readers are likely to misunderstand the point of the comma.

And that's because there are long-established rules for using commas -- and many writers and readers expect those uses. Those rules do add pauses ("to take a breath") to sentences and they do so consistently by breaking up sentences into grammatical sections.

Romanez mentions several rules above (separating clauses, introductory phrases, items in a list), but here are eight guidelines in which I try to explain the use of commas in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:

comma (,) The following guidelines treat frequent questions about eight essential uses of the comma.

First, in a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term: She opened the closet, grabbed a coat, and picked up an umbrella. In a complex series of phrases, the serial comma before the final conjunction aids readability. In a simple series, the comma is optional before the conjunction: The van is economical, roomy and dependable. Also, put a comma before the final conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series needs a conjunction: He likes folk, rock, and rhythm and blues. Don't put a comma before the first item in a series or after the and in a series. ...

Second, use a comma to join two independent clauses with a conjunction. An independent clause is a group of words that could stand on its own as a complete sentence; it begins with its own subject. The most common conjunctions are but, and, for, nor, or, so and yet:The council's Water Resources Committee will go over the resolution Jan. 12, and the full council is scheduled to act Feb. 11. Don't create run-on sentences by combining two or more independent clauses with only commas. Either insert conjunctions after the commas or break the clauses into separate sentences. ...

Third, use a comma to separate an introductory phrase or clause from the rest of the sentence: After graduating from college, he joined AmeriCorps. It may be omitted after short introductory phrases (less than three words) if no ambiguity would result: On Thursday the Kennewick City Council will decide the issue. When in doubt, use the comma, especially when it separates two capitalized words.

Fourth, enclose parenthetic expressions between commas. Parenthetic expressions are word groups that are not essential to the meaning of a sentence. If a parenthetic expression is removed, the sentence would still make sense: The social services manager, who toured the Snoqualmie Valley last week, will make her recommendations today. They took one of their sons, Leif, to the concert. His wife, Donna, is a middle school teacher. As shown in the examples, commas always go both before and after a parenthetic expression within a sentence. If you'd prefer to stress a parenthetic phrase, put it between dashes; you can play down such a phrase by placing it between parentheses. ...

Also use commas to set off a person's hometown when it follows the name: Rachel Solomon, Danbury, opened a new restaurant. If using a person's age, set it off by commas: Tom O'Rourke, 69, opened a new restaurant.

Do not use commas to set off an essential word or phrase from the rest of a sentence. Essential words and phrases are important to the meaning of a sentence: They took their daughter Jennifer to school. Their son Nils works at Ticketmaster. (They have more than one daughter and more than one son.)

Fifth, use commas to set off words and phrases such as however, meanwhile, in fact, in addition, moreover, nevertheless, as a result, thus, therefore, for example, finally and in other words. Usually, place a comma after such expressions when they begin a sentence, and place commas before and after the expressions when they are within a sentence. ...

Sixth, use commas to separate a series of adjectives equal in rank. If the adjectives could be rearranged without changing the meaning of a sentence or if the word and could replace the commas without changing the sense, the adjectives are equal: A sleek, new car. A thick, black cloud. ...

Use no comma when the last adjective before a noun outranks its predecessors because it is an integral element of a noun phrase: a silver articulated bus.

Seventh, use a comma to set off a direct one-sentence quotation within a paragraph:Theodore Roosevelt said, "It's not the critic who counts." Use a comma before the second quotation mark in a quotation followed by attribution: "No comment," said Jerry Carson. ...

And eighth, use a comma to separate the parts of numbers, dates and addresses. Use a comma for figures higher than 999: More than 5,000 people attended the event.

Use commas to set off the year in complete dates: The department released its report Nov. 16, 2002, for public review. But don't separate the month from the year when not using a date. They held their first retreat in January 1994. ...

Use commas to set off cities from names of states or nations: She went to Vancouver, Wash., to tour the bridge retrofit program. He traveled to Paris, France, on vacation.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Does Helping Others Hurt Your Creativity? The Cost of Interruption | Christian Jarrett, 99U

You've come into the office ready to go - it's going to be a productive day. You're finally going to make some headway on that overdue blog post, or perhaps it's a new design layout, or a complex spreadsheet. Yet, as soon as you find your focus, a colleague wheels over a chair and interrupts your flow, asking for help. Sound like a familiar frustration?

Responding to that anecdote about distractions often in modern open-plan offices, Jarrett describes recent research in Germany and Switzerland. And he reports some surprising findings.

Jarrett then discusses the lessons of that research for real-life working?
Of course every office situation is different and we must be cautious about extrapolating too literally from a lab study. That said, these results suggest it pays to think about the kind of conditions under which anytime help-seeking might be preferable to having controlled quiet times, or vice versa.

If you're in an office where there is a large discrepancy in expertise or knowledge between staff, then allowing help-seeking and interruptions at anytime is likely to be highly beneficial, especially if a couple of minutes sacrifice from one team member will save hours or more for the person making the inquiry.
But he also offers some suggestions to ensure success:
  • [W]e should also encourage a culture in which people think twice before seeking help – first asking themselves if they can solve the query alone. 
  • Käser's participants only derived a benefit from decent stretches of quiet time. So consider a day or a half-day as compared to 1-2 hours. 
  • [I]f quiet hours are introduced in your office, it's worth planning how you might make the most of them; or if you're a manager, consider sharing some strategic pointers.
This article is featured in today's (Aug. 1) Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

5 Stupid Grammar Myths (and Why You Should Follow Them at Work) | Mignon Fogarty, The Daily Muse

I respect the advice of Mignon Fogarty, well-known author of the Grammar Girl books and columns. But though I understand her point in this article, I think she surrenders too easily. Given the audience of the website, however, perhaps she offers useful advice.

I also advise that people write to meet the needs and expectations of their targeted readers -- and follow that advice myself. But depending on the audience, the objectives of a document, and the role of the writer/editor, I also urge people to use words, terms and grammar correctly and consistently whenever possible.

Here's what I advise on the terms in Fogarty's column at Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:
data Normally a plural noun, it takes plural verbs and pronouns when writing about individual items: The data have been analyzed thoroughly. Data may take singular verbs when the group or quantity is considered a unit: The data is accurate. Stick with the plural verb after data if you're not sure which one to use.
Also, use data to refer to evidence, measurements, records and statistics from which conclusions can be inferred, not as a simple synonym for facts, knowledge, reports or information. If suitable, consider using simpler information or facts.
split infinitives Avoid awkward sentence constructions that split the infinitive forms of a verb, such as to leave or to help, as in this sentence: Try to not awkwardly or incorrectly split infinitives. But splitting infinitives is grammatically correct--and even useful if it helps strengthen the meaning of a sentence by placing the modifier before the word it's modifying: He wanted to really impress the council. Unfortunately, split infinitives can distract some readers who think they're incorrect.
prepositions ... Don't overuse prepositions in a single sentence. To provide clarity, rewrite and shorten long sentences containing many prepositions. It's correct to end a sentence with a preposition, but doing so could weaken the point of the sentence. Consider alternatives. ...
slow, slowly Slowly is the more common adverb to modify a verb, adjective or other adverb, but slow is also acceptable as an adverb (as well as an adjective to modify nouns and pronouns). Let your ear be your guide: He complained that his computer runs slowly. Her car is really slow, but her children say she drives slow.
done/finished I don't comment on those terms. But perhaps I should!

For additional insights on this topic, check out Garbl's Myths and Superstitions of Writing. Mignon's article is featured in today's (Aug. 1) Garbl's Style: Write Choices at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription. 

The power of plain language when communicating strategy | Kevin Bishop, Anecdote

Bishop's company sometimes helps leaders tell strategic stories, stories to build employee engagement and stories to influence change in their organisations. And those leaders struggle in doing that.

This article caught my attention for several reasons: First, I like writing stories about the work and other activities of people. Second, In the current election cycle, various politicians have been running to be our leaders. And third, I like it when the people I interview and politicians I hear speak in language that I and my readers can relate to and understand.

Bishop writes about his leader clients:
They don't seem to be able to get past the formal language they are used to using in business.
Instead of talking the way they normally would when they are sharing anecdotes informally, they resort to using big words, abstractions, and terms that people just don't use in every day speech. ...
With help, Bishop explains, leaders learn to speak in plain language, using familiar, concrete words that people can quickly understand. But it takes more effort to get leaders to transfer those lessons to writing. Leaders apparently feel they must be "formal" in their writing.

He apparently asks his clients:
Before you send anything out that you have written, read it aloud. Does it flow? Does it sound like the way you would speak? Are there words in their you would never say in conversation?
And he advises:
If it doesn't flow, if it doesn't sound like the way you speak, if you are using words you would never use in conversation - then keep editing.
Or, as I ask on another website:
If people can't, don't or won't read your brochure, newsletter, report, letter or website, why publish it? And if people read it but don't do anything as a result, what was the point of publishing it? 
This article is featured today (Aug. 1) in Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs -- available at the the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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

Here's the fifth in my alphabetical series of pet peeves -- from entries in the E 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: 

e- Lowercase the e (unless it begins a sentence or heading) and include the hyphen in terms like e-booke-businesse-commerce and e-reader. But do not include a hyphen inemail. See email. 

each and every (one) Wordy and trite. Use either each or every (one).

each other, one another Two people look at each other. Three or more people look atone another. Either phrase may be used when the number is indefinite: Group members help each other. Group members help one another. Add 's to make these plural terms possessive: each other's guitars, one another's hands

e.g., i.e. Quickly, what are the Latin words for the abbreviation e.g.? Don't know? Then don't use e.g. Use English instead. Same for i.e. Both abbreviations are overused and often confused.

The abbreviation e.g. is the abbreviation for exempli gratia, a Latin phrase meaning "for example." The abbreviation i.e. is the abbreviation for id est, a Latin phrase meaning "that is." I.e. rephrases or clarifies the words that come before it. But even if you know Latin, simplify when writing in English! Unless you must use Latin in pompous scientific or academic documents, use for example and that is.

Commas or semicolons usually go before the Latin and English forms, and commas usually follow both. Or phrases containing the abbreviations may be contained in parentheses.

elderly Use this word carefully and sparingly. It is suitable in generic phrases that don't refer to specific people: support for elderly people, programs for the elderly. Try older and phrases like older person or people in their 70s and older instead. Apply the same principles to terms such as senior citizen.

email A shortened version of electronic mail. OK to use email (no hyphen, lowercase) in all references, including first. Capitalize as Email only to begin sentences, headings and headlines. Include a hyphen for words like e-booke-business and e-commerce.

Acceptable to use as a verb: Jennifer Lopez emailed her phone number to Gary. When used alone as a noun, email refers to email in bulk. It takes singular verbs and singular pronouns: He got so much email it overloaded his in-box. All her email was about the construction project. 

When writing about email messages, it's acceptable to refer to an email and several emailsShe wrote an email telling friends about her new email address. He read eight emails about the project. 

embattled Save this word for describing brave troops ready for battle or already battling in a terrible war. For the politicians who sent them there or other people, companies and organizations having problems, try attacked, troubled or harassed.

emigrate/emigrant, immigrate/immigrant Often confused or misspelled. An emigrant leaves or emigrates from or out of one country to live in another. An immigrant moves into or immigrates to another country to live there. Memory tips: Emigrate=Exit;Immigrate=Into. Emigrate/emigrant=from or out (of); immigrate/immigrant=to or in(to). An immigrant in the United States may be an emigrant from Norway.

endeavor (v.) Overstated and formal. Simplify. Replace with try or carry out.

end product Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Try product instead.

end result The end result of using this phrase is one extra word, one extra syllable, three extra letters and no extra meaning. Simplify, drop the redundant end.

ensure, insure Commonly confused, though ensure is usually the correct choice. Use ensure to mean guarantee or make certain of something, or try using simpler be sure or make sure. Use insure for references to insurance.

et al. Abbreviation for et alibi or et alii, meaning "and elsewhere" or "and others." You're probably writing in English, so avoid using this abbreviation for Latin words. And be specific, if possible. Et al. may be used in technical reports as a reference citation: Light rail uses 34 BTUs of energy (Healy, et al., 1984).

etc. Abbreviation for et cetera, a Latin phrase meaning "and other things," "and so on," "and so forth," "and the rest." It's used for things, not people; the Latin et al. is the correct abbreviation for mentioning people. But avoid using the abbreviations; except for charts and tables, use the simpler English words instead. Also, don't use etc. if introducing a list with for example or such as. And if you must use etc., don't precede it with a redundant and. List at least two things before etc., and set it off with commas at both ends (unless it ends a sentence).

euphemisms Avoid substituting vague, unnecessary, sometimes misleading euphemisms for clear, simple words: tax increase, not revenue enhancementdied, not passed away;disabled, not differently abledfired, not terminatedcrashcollision or accident, not unintended impactI or we, not this office or this company. Call things by their most common names.

everyone, every one, everybody Everyone and everybody are interchangeable, though everyone is used more often. Use every one to refer to each individual item: Every one of the stocks was worthless. Use everyone (or everybody) as a pronoun meaning "all people": Everyone supported the proposal. Everyone and everybody take singular verbs and pronouns: Everyone is expected to do his or her part. Some writers use plural pronouns to avoid awkward or sexist use of singular pronouns, but it's still considered ungrammatical: Everyone is expected to do their part.

exclamation point (!) Use sparingly and only to express a high degree of surprise, disbelief or other strong emotion. The exclamation point goes within the quotation marks when it applies to the quoted matter only.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke."

excessive number of Wordy. Simplify. Replace with too many.

The Practice of Stillness | Michael Hyatt, Intentional Leadership

Hyatt responds to the first chapter in a book he's reading, The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. The chapter title, "Nothing."

He writes:
I was so challenged by this chapter, that I haven’t gotten beyond it. I have now read it four times. I have also practiced this discipline for twenty-two days in a row.
Honestly, this has been one of the most transformational things I have ever done.
What is "stillness"?
Doing nothing is being still, quieting your mind (and the cacophony of voices), and simply being.
Why you need stillness. Hyatt's reasons, summarized:
  1. I want to maintain perspective. ...
  2. I want to stay connected to my true self. ...
  3. I want more internal margin in my life. ...
How to practice stillness. Hyatt's suggestions, summarized:
  1. Schedule a time. ...
  2. Find a place. ...
  3. Set a timer. I am following Beck’s admonition to set aside fifteen minutes a day. ...
  4. Relax your body. ... Beck says that if you can’t sit still, then engage in any mindless physical activity, like rocking in a chair or watching some natural motion like fire or running water. ...
  5. Quiet your mind. ...
  6. Be present. ...
  7. Learn to return. This has been the most helpful component. In involves recalling a “place of peace,” where you had a particularly vivid experience of peace and stillness. ...
Hyatt refers to God several times, but my perception is that this is not a book promoting religious belief or practice.


Please pardon the French at this sometimes helpful, sometimes inspiring, sometimes amusing site.

In large type, the site provides a concise suggestion for reinvigorating your creativity; for example:
You can refresh the advice by pressing the "MOREFUCKINGCREATIVEADVICE" link at the bottom of the Web page.

The site apparently allows visitors to add their own advice.
This item is highlighted in today's (July 31) Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Too many exclamation points!!! -

I like the point of this article! And I encourage you to read it!!

But I don't think you need to read all of it!!! It makes its point very clear right from the beginning.

So please!! Heed its advice!!!!! Don't be ridiculous in your overuse of exclamation points.

And admit that not everything your write is all that exciting. in fact, much of what you write isn't exciting at all. It's just information (or opinion). And even if it's important stuff, does it require an exclamation point?

Save the exclamation points for exciting things, especially if that excitement isn't already clear in the words you've used.

Here's what I advise in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:
exclamation point (!) Use sparingly and only to express a high degree of surprise, disbelief or other strong emotion. The exclamation point goes within the quotation marks when it applies to the quoted matter only.
F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke."

Does Everyone Know Every One? | Mark Nichol, Daily Writing Tips

Here's a useful article if you've ever wondered about the differences in using everybody and every body, any one and anyone, and so on.

Nichols writes:
Writers are sometimes confused about when to attach any, every, and no to one or body as a closed compound and when to treat one of these word pairs as just that: a two-word phrase.
He covers:
  • any body/anybody
  • any one/anyone
  • every body/everybody
  • every one/everyone
  • no one/noone (or no-one)
  • no body/nobody.
Here's some related advice from Garbl's Editorial Style Manual (I think Nichol and I are consistent in our advice):

anybody, any body, anyone, any one Anybody and anyone are interchangeable as indefinite references "to any person,"; anyone is used more often, and anybody is considered informal. They take singular verbs and pronouns: Anybody can ride the bus. Anyone can do that. I don't think anyone was prepared for the lesson. Any one means "any single person" or "any single thing." Use two words to single out one element of a group: Any one of them may speak at the meeting. Any body means "any human form" or "any group."

everyone, every one, everybody Everyone and everybody are interchangeable, though everyone is used more often. Use every one to refer to each individual item: Every one of the stocks was worthless. Use everyone (or everybody) as a pronoun meaning "all people": Everyone supported the proposal. Everyone and everybody take singular verbs and pronouns: Everyone is expected to do his or her part. Some writers use plural pronouns to avoid awkward or sexist use of singular pronouns, but it's still considered ungrammatical: Everyone is expected to do their part. 

nobody, no one Nobody is one word; no one is two words. Interchangeable, but no one is considered more formal. They take singular verbs and adjectives.

This article is featured in today's (July 30) Garbl's Style: Write Choices -- available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

20 PRINCIPLES OF GOOD WRITING | Ken Roman and Joel Raphaelson, Ogilvy & Mather

From How to Write Better: the Ogilvy & Mather guide to writing effective memos, letters, reports, plans and strategies, an agency document by Ken Roman and Joel Raphaelson in 1978. (Roman eventually became Ogilvy & Mather chairman and CEO and Raphaelson, executive creative director.)

Their advice is more than 30 years old, but it still applies to all types of writing. I especially liked their first point ... about the limited time of readers. Because of that time limitation, writers must make their point clearly early in a document. And they must use as few words as possible in the entire document.

Three comments on their advice: 
  • They suggest underlining text to emphasize it. With the advent personal computers (since 1978), boldfacing key words or sentences or italicizing short statements is preferred. Underlines can be misleading or hard to read, especially if used on the Web; they suggest a Web link. 
  • They frown on using "hopefully" to begin a sentence; times have changed, and using hopefully to modify an entire sentence is now acceptable. 
  • They stress  the difference in meaning between i.e. ("that is") and e.g. ("for example"). Rather than using those abbreviations for Latin terms, I recommend using English instead!
Roman and Raphaelson introduced their document with this statement:
When you are speaking for Ogilvy & Mather, your writing must meet our standards. These allow ample room for individuality and freshness of expression. But “personal style” is not an excuse for sloppy, unprofessional writing.
Here's a summary of their 20 principles "that all good writers follow":
  1. Keep in mind that the reader doesn’t have much time.
  2. Know where you are going – and tell the reader.
  3. Make what you write easy to read.
  4. Short sentences and short paragraphs are easier to read than long ones.
  5. Make your writing vigorous and direct.
  6. Avoid clichés.
  7. Avoid vague modifiers such as “very” and “slightly.”
  8. Use specific concrete language.
  9. Find the right word.
  10. Don’t make spelling mistakes.
  11. Don’t overwrite or overstate.
  12. Come to the point.
  13. State things as simply as you can.
  14. Handle numbers consistently.
  15. Avoid needless words.
  16. Be concise, but readable.
  17. Be brief, simple and natural.
  18. Don’t write like a lawyer or a bureaucrat.
  19. Never be content with your first draft.
  20. Have somebody else look over your draft.
For more similar advice, check out Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It provides a seven-step approach to writing clearly and concisely to meet the needs of your readers. It covers reader and purpose, organization, paragraphs, sentences, words, design, and testing. 

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