Friday, May 15, 2009

PUGS Pointers #24: Apostrophes and Curly Quotes

PUGS* Pointers
(*Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
by Kathy Ide

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling (“PUGS”).


Replacing Omitted Letters
An apostrophe replaces omitted letters in a word. Examples:
readin’ and writin’
’tis the season
rock ’n’ roll

NOTE: If you’re using “curly quotes,” make sure the apostrophes are curled in the right direction. Example:
’tis, not ‘tis

See The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) #7.31 and The Associated Press Stylebook page 328.


best seller/best-selling
best seller (noun): a book that has sold more copies than most

best-selling (adjective): having sold more copies than most

NOTE: Never one word, bestseller


Most of the time, the subject pronoun of a phrase or sentence refers to the subject noun of the previous phrase or sentence, while the object pronoun refers to the object noun.

“Stephanie told Nancy about the book signing. Then she told her about the potluck.”
[“She” refers to Stephanie (subject), and “her” refers to Nancy (object).]

This rule of thumb does not apply if the identity of the pronoun is obvious.

“Wanda told Daniel she wouldn’t eat caviar. He told her he never ate shellfish.”


CAT scan (all-caps CAT, acronym for Computerized Axial Tomography)


PUGS Pointers are based on the current industry-standard references in the United States.

For books:
The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition, © 2003)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, © 2003)

For articles:
The Associated Press Stylebook (© 2004)
Webster’s New World College Dictionary (© 2002)

Many publishing houses have their own in-house style guides that may differ in some aspects from the standard references. However, unless you’re writing exclusively for one particular publisher, it’s best to follow the standard references and let the in-house proofreaders adjust to house style.

For more PUGS Pointers, see Kathy Ide’s Web site. Or get her book Polishing the PUGS, available here.


Kathy Ide has been writing for publication since 1988. She has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. She is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for aspiring writers, established authors, commercial book publishers, subsidy publishers, and magazines. Her services include proofreading, copyediting, substantive/content editing, coauthoring, ghostwriting, and mentoring/coaching. She also speaks at writers conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network and the Christian Editor Network. To find out more, please visit Kathy's Web site.

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1 comment:

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Oops, I've missed on best seller and CAT scan. Thanks for the correct spelling. :)