Editorial differences

  • Having so much access to American television here in Australia means that we grow up watching words spelled as they are spelled in America. Different from us and mostly not acceptable for Australians to use in school, university or in business. Even our spell checkers default American spelling often. It drives me crazy when my seven-year-old daughter says, candy instead of candy, flashlight instead of torch, drugstore instead of drugstore, sidewalk instead of sidewalk and says she’s taking a shower instead of taking one. One thing that is easy to remember is that Americans use ‘z’ in many words, where we use ‘s’ and even pronounce ‘Z’ in the opposite way. Examples of use of ‘Z’; antagonize versus antagonize, analyze and analyze, aperitif and aperitif, etc. Americans also often shorten words by removing a letter like, anesthetic and anesthetic, archaeological and archaeological, mold against mold, favor versus favor, and behavior and behavior. There are word alterations like center to center, color to color, tire and tire, plow and plow, etc. So who should we blame or thank for all this American drama? 19th century American lexicographer Mr. Noah Webster of dictionary fame. He supposed that making the changes away from the British language would make America more superior and bypass them. It has certainly put them aside.

  • The Oxford comma, the Harvard comma, or the serial comma. There are supporters for and against its use. It is also known as the pretentious comma and at the end of the day is optional and up to the author unless you follow a particular style. We don’t use it as often in Australia as we do in Americans, although there are arguments that it clarifies meanings within sentences that can otherwise be confusing. What is it? It is the comma placed directly before the coordinating conjunction such as: and, or, or neither in a sequence of three terms or more. An example that uses the Oxford comma is: I have a recipe, a pot and an oven. Not using the comma would look like this: I have a recipe, a pot and an oven.

  • The exclamation point has been called the cheap whore of punctuation. My thoughts are, there is a place for it, but professionally it doesn’t belong. The more the merrier, it shouldn’t be applied either, and as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, “Eliminate all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke. It’s a useful way to convey emotion, irony, annoyance, or kindness when using six at a time, for example, as text, or on Facebook, email, or any other electronic medium. Also, this lays the groundwork for others to respond similarly with 17 !!!!! or ???????, like, ‘I just jumped out of a plane and my parachute opened !!!!!!’ Actually ?????? Cool!!!!!!’ Ridiculous.

  • I love the ampersand (&) logogram which personifies ‘y’ but when used correctly. It should not be used in any way or haphazardly. You don’t save on your word counting students. An ampersand originated from Latin, of course, as Y what does it mean Y. An example of good use might be a company title like Anders & Wallace Editing or in academic references such as (Anders and Judd, 2007). It would not be appropriate to use it to write something like ‘They put the bricks and mortar against the wall’.

  • Using fonts looks like fun. But there is a place for countless font practices, like on a circus banner or in a comic. That’s right, people without comics, however whimsical, should be used in a comic, and nowhere else. Particular fonts work best on paper (times new roman, courier or fonts with feet / serif) and others better on screen (Sans-serif, Helvetica, Century gothic, Verdana, Arial or fonts without feet / sans serif). Although the pixel resolution has changed, you still need to consider small devices. I think using a particular font or fonts can really affect readability, so my advice is not to ‘mix’ them. It is fine when making a mixed tape, but not for a letter or other document. Service your readers. Don’t use impact for a full page, or combine it with Bradley’s hand pages and papyrus … well, pffftt. I have no idea what wings are for.

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