GrammarPhile Blog

Popular Style Guides and What You Need to Know About Each - Part 2

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Feb 8, 2018 7:30:00 AM

As promised last week, here are some popular style guides listed by industry.

By Industry

American Medical Association Style Guide (AMA)

The AMA style was developed by the American Medical Association for the purpose of writing medical research papers. Many scientists use this style too.

American Psychological Association Style (APA)

The APA style guide is the style manual of choice for writers, editors, students, and educators in the social and behavioral sciences. It provides vital direction on all aspects of the writing process, from the ethics of authorship to what words writers should choose to best reduce bias in language. And it offers guidance on choosing the headings, tables, figures, and tone that will result in strong, direct, and sophisticated scientific communication.

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Topics: Chicago Manual of Style, Style Guides, Popular Style Guides

Bibliographic Citations

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Aug 21, 2013 6:30:00 AM

stack of booksWe often proofread documents that contain bibliographic references. There are at least three "standard" forms for literary citations. The form you choose will depend on your readership.

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Topics: bibliography, AMA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style

Using Civil Titles

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Sep 4, 2012 5:30:00 AM

Titles of people in positions of authority are among the most inconsistent terms we see in all the documents we proof and edit for our clients. Sure, readers are not dumb, and they'll know whom you're referring to when you write "We saw the President boarding Air Force One" or "The secretary of State used to teach at Stanford." But there are established standards, and following those standards tells your readers that you are thoughtful, knowledgeable, and precise. So, before you write your next letter to the president, check out what the Chicago Manual of Style prescribes for these civil titles.
  • the president; George Washington, first president of the United States; President Ford; the presidency; presidential; the Taft administration; Chandrika Kumaratunga, president of Sri Lanka; President Kumaratunga or Mrs. Kumaratunga
  • the vice president; Joseph Biden, vice president of the United States; Vice President Biden; vice-presidential duties; Jorge Quiroga, vice president of Bolivia; Vice President Quiroga
  • the secretary of state; Hillary Rodham Clinton, secretary of state; Secretary of State Clinton or Secretary Clinton
  • the senator; the senator from West Virginia; Senator Robert C. Byrd; Senators Byrd and Trent; Sen. John Glenn, Democrat from Ohio (or D-OH)
  • the representative; the congressman; the congresswoman; Henry Hyde, representative from Illinois or congressman from Illinois; Congressman Hyde or Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) or Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.); Maxine Waters, representative from California; Congresswoman Waters; the congresswoman or the representative; Representatives Hyde and Waters
  • the Speaker; John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Speaker Boehner (Speaker is traditionally capitalized)
  • the chief justice; [the late] William H. Rehnquist, chief justice of the United States; Chief Justice Rehnquist
  • the associate justice; Antonin Kennedy, associate justice; Justice Kennedy; Justices Kennedy and Thomas
  • the chief judge; Henry Tonigan, chief judge; Judge Tonigan
  • the ambassador; Philip Lader, ambassador to the Court of St. James's or ambassador to the United Kingdom; Ambassador Lader
  • the governor; Ruth Ann Minner, governor of the state of Delaware; Governor Minner
  • the mayor; Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago; Mayor Emanuel
  • the state senator; Olga Parker, Ohio state senator; the Honorable Olga Parker
  • the state representative (same pattern as state senator)
  • the governor-general of Canada; the Right Honourable David Johnston
  • the minister; Motohisa Furukawa, Japanese economics minister; Mr. Furukawa
  • the prime minister; the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former prime minister of Canada; David Cameron, the British prime minister
  • the premier (of a Canadian province); the Right Honourable Roy Romanow
  • the member of Parliament (UK and Canada); Jane Doe, member of Parliament or, more commonly, Jane Doe, MP (not used as a title preceding the name); Jane Doe, the member for West Hamage
  • the chief whip; Tony Yengeni, chief whip of the African National Congress; Yengini
  • the foreign secretary (UK); the foreign minister (other nations); the British foreign secretary; the German foreign minister (not used as a title preceding the name)
  • the chancellor; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; Chancellor Merkel
  • the chancellor of the exchequer (UK); George Osborne; Chancellor Osborne
  • the Lord Privy Seal (UK; always capitalized)

Note that some company style sheets make the president of the United States an exception: "The President went to New Orleans today." That's fine; just be consistent!
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Topics: capitalization, Chicago Manual of Style

Some Rules on Numbers

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jul 3, 2012 5:30:00 AM

When it comes to numbers, you may know that our standard style book, the Chicago Manual of Style, calls for spelling out whole numbers from one through one hundred. The Associated Press Stylebook calls for spelling out whole numbers only up to nine. Here are some more rules about numbers in your text.

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Topics: how to write out money in text, Associated Press Stylebook, figures, numbers, Chicago Manual of Style

Grammar Questions Answered

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 22, 2011 5:30:00 AM

Here are some questions we've received from readers and clients, followed by our answers. Hope you find these helpful!

Question:  Would you hyphenate "we must perform our work with a high-level of technical expertise, professionalism, and integrity"?

Answer:  In this example, there should be no hyphen in "high level" - that's because it is not a compound adjective. "Level" is a noun that is modified by "high."

Now, if you take out the word "of" there, then "high-level" becomes a compound adjective and it IS hyphenated. "We need high-level expertise in order to compete."

More examples:

  • He displayed a high level of intelligence.
  • She is a high-level consultant at Monsanto.
  • They sought higher-level access at the Kennedy Space Center.
  • He showed a high level of interest in our design.

Question:  It is my understanding that abbreviations such as "etc., i.e., and e.g." are only used parenthetically, if at all. Why not simply write "and so forth, that is, and for example"?

Answer:  Yes, why not use "that is" and "for example"? Well, sometimes people want to be quicker with their writing, so abbreviations are brought in. Some clients of ours have in their style guides prohibitions on using these abbreviations, but most people rely on them, we see.

The biggest trouble we see with them is when writers confuse them, using "i.e." when they mean "e.g." And in British form, neither takes a comma, whereas in American form, both take commas.

Style guides say it's a matter of personal preference. We'd never change "for example" to "e.g." in a client document, and we'd only change "e.g." to "for example" if the style guide directed us to.

Question:  What's the rule for writing the name of a newsletter--italicized or underlined?

Answer:  Chicago style (Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) has this:

CMS8.2: Chicago prefers italics to set off titles of major or freestanding works such as books, journals, movies, and paintings...Quotation marks are usually reserved for the titles of subsections of larger works--including chapter and article titles and the titles of poems that have been collected into a series.

Chicago does not use underlining at all, apparently.

So, we suggest putting a newsletter title in italics.

Do you have any questions you'd like our grammar experts to answer? Click here to submit your question!

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Topics: hyphenation, italicize, adjectives, abbreviations, grammar, Chicago Manual of Style

Official Changes in the English Language?

Posted by Conni Eversull   Jan 18, 2011 5:30:00 AM

Today, I thought I'd share a question from a visitor to our site and the response given by Phil Jamieson, president of

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Topics: English language, punctuation, pronouns, Chicago Manual of Style

Headline Style -- Read All About It!

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Aug 24, 2010 4:30:00 AM

If you're in the newspaper business, you know how to properly capitalize headlines. But people writing white papers, press releases, brochures, and even résumés need to know what's right and what's wrong in order to retain the respect and admiration, to say nothing of the trust, of their readers. So take note!

Most style guides call for lower-casing prepositions, articles, and many conjunctions. But there are lots of extenuating circumstances that call for uppercasing those words sometimes. Read on, but first:

- A preposition is a word that could describe your relationship to a cloud: you're in the cloud, under the cloud, above the cloud, around the cloud, by the cloud, before the cloud, after the cloud. These italicized words are prepositions.
- The articles are the, a, and an -- they point out things: the boy, a man.
- Conjunctions join things: and, or, nor, while, etc.

The Chicago Manual of Style says to always capitalize the first and last words of a headline, no matter what. Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are stressed (as through in A River Runs Through It), are used adverbially or adjectivally (as up in Look Up, down in Turn Down, on in The On Button, etc.), are used as conjunctions (such as before in Look Before You Leap), or are part of a Latin expression used adjectivally or adverbially (e.g., De Facto, In Vitro, etc.). CMS specifies lowercasing the conjunctions and, but, for, or, nor. Always lowercase to and as.


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Topics: capitalization, conjunctions, preposition, style guide, Chicago Manual of Style, Gregg Reference Manual

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