Sign in versus log in
Years ago, I recall spending ages deciding whether to use ‘sign in’ or ‘log in’ (or even ‘log-in’ or ‘login’). I can’t remember what I decided at the time, but I was interested to read GOV.AU and find that ‘sign in’ seems to have won.
GOV.AU says: ‘Consider using ‘sign in’ and ‘sign out’ (note, no hyphen) instead of ‘log in’ or ‘log out’ in text, links and buttons.
‘Sign in’ seems to be becoming a more recognisable call to action than ‘log in’. But you should test this with the user.’
My courses use ‘sign in’!
Readers’ questions and comments
There are no blogs from me this month – the weather was so glorious that I used all my free time reclaiming my garden from weeds. I considered not writing a newsletter this month, but your comments and questions were too interesting to leave for a month.
Q: What is the correct style for ellipses?
A: If only there were agreement on every aspect of ellipses!
An ellipsis is always three dots – there is universal agreement on that. There is not universal agreement on the spacing before or after ellipses. The main area of disagreement seems to be whether you need a space before an ellipsis.
I’m in a hurry… just send the document.
I’m in a hurry … just send the document.
Read what I have written about ellipses.
Punctuation with ‘therefore’
Someone read my article on adverbial conjuncts (however, therefore) and suggested that I write a follow-up post addressing the use of ‘therefore’ when it joins two independent clauses that form a question.
She gave the following example:
Did she decide that we have the skills of a writer, therefore it ought to be our priority to work towards that goal?
My response: The same rules apply with questions.
Out of context, the example doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it should be punctuated with a semicolon and comma.
Did she decide that we have the skills of a writer; therefore, it ought to be our priority to work towards that goal?
I wonder if this could be written more simply without ‘therefore’? For example:
Did she decide that we are capable of writing well and should make improving our skills a priority?
I wrote about contractions last month and a reader said:
‘Stop using contractions unless writing in a very casual conversation.’
He gave two reasons:
- A contraction can degrade the most important word, e.g. ‘not’ in ‘can’t’ (I can’t go versus I can not go)
- If you avoid contractions, they won’t transfer into muffled sounds in speech.
PS Here’s what the Macquarie Dictionary has to say about ‘cannot’ and ‘can not’ (it’s all about the emphasis).
What are your views on contractions?
Refute vs rebut vs deny
Last month, I looked at the difference between ‘refute’ and ‘rebut’. A reader commented that the commonest misuse is not ‘refute/rebut’ but ‘refute/deny’. He recalled former Australian Prime Minister John Howard regularly saying ‘I refute that’ when he was merely denying.
A reader’s pet peeve is ‘five-year anniversary’ (insert your own number) instead of the correct ‘fifth anniversary’.
As I hadn’t noticed this, I googled and found this New York Times article I thought you might find interesting.
A reader commented on the increasing incorrect use of the word ‘gentleman’. For instance, a major newscaster used the word ‘gentleman’ instead of ‘man’ and another announcer referred to a convicted murderer as a ‘gentleman’.
When would you use the word ‘gentleman’ today?
Interesting stuff about writing
Mistakes, we’ve drawn a few
An interesting look at how data can distort. The Economist exposes its own instructive examples.
You can now search really old AP Stylebooks and guides online
It’s fascinating to see how styles change. For example:
‘The use of the word ‘phone’ for telephoned and ‘phoned’ for telephoned and similar abbreviations are prohibited in the Associated Press.’ Read more
People who correct your typos online are jerks in real life
Do you agree? I appreciate it when people point out errors on my website because that gives me a chance to correct them. Read the article and let me know what you think. (I edit this newsletter myself – apologies if I miss anything.)
Thirteen tweets that sum up good writing
Harvard linguist Steven Pinker has reduced his writing guidelines to 13 tweets.
What would you say about writing in 13 tweets?
Quote of the month
An energy company’s creative use of a hyphen
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