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.
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
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:
- The writing tutoring resources available through Penn State Learning.
- Strunk and White, The Elements of Style
- Bryan Garner, Garner’s Modern American Usage
- Matthew Butterick, Typography for Lawyers
- George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
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.