Italics: Italicizing foreign words

June 1, 2006: Issue 141

Don’t italicize foreign words and phrases that appear on the SIM Word List or in the main section of Web 11.
an antique bergère
a sense of déjà vu
a glass of sake

Do not italicize foreign language words not found in Merriam-Webster or other standard English dictionaries—particularly in food content. (updated 6/26/23)
Following anti-bias guidelines: If italics are supposed to mean that something is not a mistake, but rather unfamiliar, italicizing some words ends up setting them apart/othering and gatekeeping what’s considered “worth the mainstream knowing.” Writing the genus of a plant or animal is the only exception to this.

Don’t italicize foreign words that are part of a proper name.
the Place de l’Etoile in Paris
the couple’s summer house, Casa de la Playa
Foreign words often include accent marks. Find a list of common accent marks and how to make them on a Mac.

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Web Tips: Computer commands

August 15, 2002: Issue 32

SIM STYLE: Computer commands
SIM style is full of quirky little symbols. Not sure how to get a thin space or make a dimension-x? Can’t get a word to break in the right place? Struggling to make a fraction? The solutions to these problems and more are as close as your SIM Stylebook.

For more information, see Computer Commands section in the SIM Stylebook.

For information on accent marks, see Accent Marks section in the SIM Stylebook.

GRAMMAR: Is it compared to or compared with?
There really is a difference. If you’re likening one thing to another, use compared to. If you’re examining two or more items’ similarities or differences, use compared with.
correct: Joking about the long, extensive kitchen remodeling, Olivia compared the project to an archaeological dig.
correct: The study indicated that 80 percent of homeowners planned to remodel a bath, compared with just 30 percent who planned to update a kitchen.

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Punctuation: Hyphenating compound modifiers

April 23, 2009: Issue 286

You think gay marriage and corporate bailouts stir debate? Try asking two grammarians whether to hyphenate a compound modifier.

The rule seems simple. Hyphenate a compound modifier before a noun:
stone-ground flour
fourth-generation gardener
step-by-step guide

But here comes the big exception. Don’t hyphenate a well-established compound when it functions as a modifier:
health care plan
feed sack quilt
flea market treasures

And that’s where things get fuzzy. What counts as well-established?

First check the SIM Stylebook word list and Webster’s 11th. If a compound is listed there, hyphenate it accordingly.

Otherwise, a good test is to imagine yourself on the game show Password. Could you use the first half of the compound as a clue for the second? (“Fleeeeaaaaa …”  “Market!”) If so, it’s well-established and doesn’t need a hyphen.

Another good question to ask is whether a hyphen is necessary for clarity:

small kitchen ideas
Readers will understand that we’re talking about ideas for small kitchens, not small ideas for kitchens.

When a phrase works with or without a hyphen, let’s err on the side of leaving it out—especially when writing for the Web. Readers rarely use hyphens in their search terms. They’ll type “small kitchen ideas,” not “small-kitchen ideas.”

Still have questions? Find more about hyphenating compound modifiers, along with detailed examples.

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Geography: Stand-alone cities I

December 20, 2001: Issue 4

SIM STYLE: Stand-alone cities
Many U.S. cities and several foreign cities are so well-known that they require no accompanying state or country designation. This doesn’t mean you CAN’T name the state or country if you feel it’s needed; it simply means that in most cases the city name alone is sufficiently clear.

Two notable exceptions: 
• Portland (Maine or Oregon?)
• Kansas City (Kansas or Missouri?)
For more information, including a complete list of stand-alone cities, see Issue 55, or go to the Stand-Alone Cities section in the SIM stylebook.

GRAMMAR: If you only knew …
Did the Smiths only choose neutrals for their master bath, or did they choose only neutrals? There’s a difference.
The word “only” can show up almost anywhere in a sentence, but its proper placement depends on what you’re trying to say. To put “only” in its place, make sure it shows up right before the word you’re trying to single out.

Check out the different meanings of the following examples:

• Only the Smiths chose neutrals for their master bath. (No one else did.)
• The Smiths only chose neutrals for their master bath. (They did nothing else in the decorating process.)
• The Smiths chose only neutrals for their master bath. (They chose no other colors.)
• The Smiths chose neutrals only for their master bath. (They didn’t choose neutrals anywhere else.)

That said, the point of putting “only” in its place is clarity. If no one will
misunderstand your meaning, put “only” where it sounds most natural (such as “I’m only going to say this once,” rather than the more technically correct “I’m going to say this only once”).

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Hyphenated Words: Mid-

March 10, 2005: Issue 82

SIM Style: Modern issues

Use midcentury or midcentury modern to refer to the decorating style prevalent from 1945 to 1965. You don’t need to specify 20th, and note: no hyphens or caps. For other centuries, follow the hyphenation rules for prefixes (in the SIM Stylebook under Hyphens).
correct: in the mid-18th century
correct: by mid-19th-century standards

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Web Tips: Track changes in Word

September 22, 2005: Issue 106

Having trouble with the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word 2004 (the OSX version)? Turn off those pesky balloons. As long as theyre on, struck-through text will disappear entirely, and the program will run slower.

To deactivate them: Under the Word pull-down menu, choose Preferences. Click the Track Changes button, then uncheck the Balloons box.

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Web Tips: Long Web addresses

October 9, 2003: Issue 69

SIM STYLE: Does SIM have a style on dealing with especially long
Web addresses?
Yes, but first we must make the distinction between a Web site and a Web page. Let’s look at two examples:

The first is long, but it’s the full address for a Web site. We know it will take us to the sponsoring organization’s home page because it ends in “.com” (it could also end in “.net,” “.org,” or any number of other extensions). We may have to break the address over two lines (see “Rerun” below), but if we’re going to run it, we have to run the whole thing.

The second example directs readers to a specific page within a Web site. The slash after the “.com” tells the Web browser to go to that site, then look for a file in a subdirectory. Each subsequent slash takes the browser into another subdirectory. Sending a user to a specific page this way is called “deep linking,” and it’s something we should avoid.

Not only is it hard on readers (who wants to have to type that all in exactly right?), companies aren’t particularly fond of it, as it allows users to bypass pages of advertising. Addresses for specific Web pages tend to change frequently, too, so a link that worked when your magazine went to service bureau may no longer work when it hits the newsstands.

So what should you do? Send readers to a Web site, then tell them how to navigate to the appropriate information. In this case, something like this:
correct: For more information, visit Click on “Resources,” then “20 Reasons to Work Here.”

GRAMMAR: Aren’t concrete and cement the same thing?
Nope. It’s ALWAYS a concrete patio, concrete floors, or concrete countertops, never cement. Cement is the dry powder that goes into a concrete mix.

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Web Tips: Internet terms

June 6, 2002: Issue 25

SIM STYLE: What is our style on the most common Internet terms?
The following are all correct; note capitalization and word separation.
the Internet
the Net
World Wide Web
the Web
Web site
e-mail (noun, verb, or adjective)
home page

Note: “Worldwide” in all other uses is one word.

GRAMMAR: What’s the difference between compliment and complement?
These words are easy to read over and use incorrectly, even when we know their proper meanings. Do a double take anytime you see one and make sure it’s right. “Compliment” implies praise or gratitude. “Complement” denotes something that adds to or completes something else.   
correct: Over dinner, the homeowners complimented the designer for her deft use of complementary materials. Touched, she quickly took the bill and said, “My compliments.”

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Web Tips: Facebook links

June 4, 2009: Issue 292

Facebook by the book

Facebook has clear rules for how to link or refer to its site. The goal is to distinguish between our brands and the Facebook brand.

Don’t use wording that implies a partnership.
incorrect: Check out the Facebook page.
correct: Check out the page on Facebook.
correct: Find us on Facebook.

Connect our names to our pages.
example: Share your wildlife photos at the Nature’s Garden page on Facebook.
Hyperlink “Nature’s Garden” or “Nature’s Garden page.” (Do not hyperlink “Facebook” unless the link goes to the Facebook log-in page.)

You can also use Facebook badges to link to our pages.

Find CEs on Facebook: Be our fan. Ask us grammar questions. Share your favorite typos. Start here.

Winner: Congratulations to Deb Wagman, the winner of last week’s contest. We drew her name at random from the people who knew that New York City was originally assigned the area code 212 because it was the fastest area code to dial on a rotary phone. Stop by the CE department to claim your prize, Deb.

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