While writing about military ranks last week, I wondered if the word colony, which I’d touched on briefly the week before, was related to the word column, from whose Italian translation the word colonel comes from.

My mind then thought of other words, like colony and colon: maybe they could be related too. Colony, maybe that comes from the Latin for column, columna, because it originally referred to a garrison town, where a column of soldiers were stationed. That sounds plausible, doesn’t it?

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How to Use Commas

This is something lots of people wonder. This is something I wonder sometimes, because commas can be quite complicated, and the rules about using them very specific. So if you’re not too concerned about how to use them, let me just say this:

If you use them in writing where you’d pause when speaking, you’ll probably be fine. In a very basic way, they provide a pause for a reader, just as we give ourselves regular pauses when we speak.

But if you want to know a little more, read on…

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A Blogger’s Style Guide

Following on logically from yesterday, I thought it’d make sense to provide a general style guide for writing blog posts. As I said yesterday, you can feel free to do your own thing, especially as there are different conventions for doing certain things. I just want to write about what works for me, and should produce writing that’s easy to read and intelligible. If you want something more detailed, have a look at the many respected style guides online such as APA, MLA, Chicago, and Oxford (which I think is the one that’s accessible and logical for most people). If you’ve already got used to a particular style guide from university, then of course feel free to stick to that. Continue reading

How to Write a Title for Your Blog Post

This is something that occurs to me now and then: what are the conventions for writing a title, specifically a blog title, which will be most relevant for most of you reading this. It mainly occurs to me while I’m writing my own titles and thinking about whether I should capitalise a word or not.

The first thing to be aware of is that these are just guidelines. If you’re writing an academic work, then you have to respect the style guide of the institution where you’re studying. But for blog posts, there’s no body issuing guidelines, so you can do what you want. That being said, I find following the general rules for writing titles of essays, articles etc. works well for blog posts too. So let’s get into it. Continue reading

Must Dash—Hyphen Appointment!

What’s the difference between a dash and a hyphen? For most people the difference is immaterial—aren’t they just they just different words for this little thing— -?

Well, not quite. For most people the difference isn’t really important, but if you spend a reasonable amount of time writing, the differences are important.

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