Style Guide

Even in IST and SRA classes, writing is a critically important skill. Like any other skill, your writing ability will get better with practice, and will get worse if it falls into disuse. To help keep you sharp, I’ve prepared this “style guide” which lists some of the common mistakes I see. This list will grow throughout the semester, I’m sure.

In no particular order:

Spacing between sentences

Place one space between sentences. Here’s why.

Smart quotes

When using Microsoft Word or other software that supports them, use “smart” or “curly” quotes. At the very least, please don’t submit anything that indiscriminately mixes smart and straight quotes.

Spell out numbers less than 10

Spell out numbers from 1 (“one”) to 9 (“nine”). Also spell out any number that begins a sentence.

Words to capitalize in titles and headings

Follow these rules.

You Are Not Alone: A Guide for Colon Usage

People frequently misuse the colon (“:”). Follow these simple rules and you’ll be right as rain.

Emdashes and endashes

This is a little more advanced, but try to use emdashes and endashes whenever appropriate. The most common cases are:

  • Use an endash (the shorter one) for indicating a range of values.
  • Use an emdash (the longer one) for setting off parenthetical elements

I also encourage you to check out:

Also, take a look at Lifehacker’s handy list of tips for editing your own writing. Seriously, these techniques will make you a much better writer.