Month: January 2018

Style Corner: One Space Or Two?

The question of whether to use one character space or two after a full stop is controversial for such a mild and unimportant topic.

It is also generational: kind of ‘baby boomers vs millennials’, as so many inter-generational disagreements are.

Don’t ask the Gen X-ers: they will probably just roll their eyes and shrug, as they do with all other disagreements between baby boomers and millennials.

In all seriousness it doesn’t matter too much. Although some advocates for each would argue that the other looks untidy, it is really a matter of fashion. Not grammar certainly, not usage, and barely style. Just fashion.

Which is not to say it is trivial. Content professionals can take it very seriously. Style guides carry opinions on it. It is worth knowing chapter and verse so you can make an informed decision.

But if someone who has decision-making authority over a piece of content – which could be a writer, a content director, an editor or even a publisher – really holds to the other one, let them. It really doesn’t matter. As long as they hold to it consistently and it is an unequivocal feature of their house or individual style guide.

The Pix Simplicity Measure: A New Readability Metric from Prism-Clarity

‘Readability metrics are not worth the paper they’re not written on.’

This was a quote from Professor Geoffrey Pullum at the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) annual conference in September 2017, and it’s the only thing Geoff Pullum has ever said that I disagree with.

In November 2016 I wrote a blog explaining the main readability metrics, Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid and the like, and making a case that there is value in these metrics for writers and editors. They’re not sufficient, they’re not even necessary, but they are useful – in context, and if their limitations are understood and accepted.

I put forward this opinion in a 5-minute lightning talk at the same SfEP conference where Geoff had earlier expressed his less complimentary view.

The rest of this blog outlines some of the thoughts behind my SfEP talk, and goes on to propose a new simplified metric (‘the Pix’) to use alongside Flesch-Kincaid. Pix is derived from three measures which are routinely used by Yoast SEO but are not in the Flesch family of metrics.

Gigs and The Law: The Fall of the Gig Economy?

[Note on the author: Dan Grozdanovic is a Business Intelligence Associate at Enyo Law LLP. Dan was a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course in October 2017. This blog was created as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Uber.

A powerhouse of convenience for millennials immersed in an ever-prevalent culture of demand for more affordable services delivered through the app-medium. Like many other millennials, I was distraught when Transport for London decided not to renew its licence to operate in the city for my own selfish reasons: having to resort to the dark ages of hailing expensive black cabs, or worse, taking public transport in the early hours with my fellow passengers spreading their three-course McDonald’s meal over the backseats of a double-decker bus.

We expect cheap cab fares to be a 21st century consumer right (a human right if you ask others) but we often forget about the employment rights of fellow millennials – it is estimated that approximately 50% of the Gig Economy’s workers are under the age of 35 – providing these services, or ‘gigs’.

Style Corner: 16 Tips on Hyphens and Dashes

This edition of Style Corner goes back to the topic of an earlier blog which looked at hyphens and dashes.

Hyphens can cause angst. The rules are, at best, complicated. And hang the rules, usage is complicated too. There is a generational split: older users prefer it, younger users demur.

Hart’s Rules on the hyphen are unusually apologetic and complex. To illustrate, check out Hart’s view on hyphenating noun compounds:

A compound term may be open (spaced as separate words), hyphenated, or closed (written as one word). However there is an increasing tendency to avoid hyphenation for noun compounds.

In this Style Corner we use the Always/Never/Sometimes construct, though this does miss some nuances.