Spelling: Desert/dessert

December 6, 2001: Issue 2

SIM STYLE: What’s our style on using brand names?
In general, we avoid using brand names. Instead, choose a more detailed but generic description. (Product stories are an obvious exception.)
incorrect: The IKEA sofa creates a lively focal point.
correct: A bright, contemporary sofa creates a lively focal point.

Be aware that some names that have made their way into the vernacular are actually trademarked brand names that should usually be avoided. Con-Tact paper, Crock Pot, Jacuzzi, Lycra, Plexiglas, Sheetrock, Spackle, Styrofoam, Thermos, and Velcro are just a few.
If you do use a trademarked name, be sure you’re using it correctly. It’s just as bad to call a generic product “Plexiglas” as it is to call the name brand “plexiglass.” Also, use trademark symbols (™ and ®) only with Meredith products.
For more information, including a list of trademarked names and suggested generic alternatives, see Trademarks.

GRAMMAR: The des(s)ert tray
If you skip dinner in favor of the double-chocolate cheesecake, you’re having “just dessert.” But if you eat a big dinner AND the cheesecake, and gain 5 pounds because of it, you’re getting what you deserve: your “just deserts” (pronounced, but not spelled, the same way).

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Spelling: Anyone/any one

January 16, 2003: Issue 47

SIM STYLE: When Harry met Sally
Sure, it was a great movie title, but as a lead, it leaves something to be desired. What is a “when Harry met Sally” lead, you ask?
• When Lisa Sanchez decided to remodel her kitchen, she knew the window looking out to the alley had to go.
• When Dana and James Larson walked into their new home, they agreed the plain-vanilla walls didn’t suit their preference for color.
• When Mike Jones and Chris O’Connor bought their 1940s bungalow, the long-neglected and overgrown garden belied the home’s charm.

It’s not that the “when Harry met Sally” lead isn’t an effective way to start a story. It has simply become a victim of sheer overuse, especially in SIM. The fix is usually simple: Reword the sentence, or pull up a few details and expand a bit on the idea you’ve already got going. Check out these suggested rewrites.
• An alley is the last thing Lisa Sanchez wanted to see from her kitchen, so eliminating a window and its unappealing view was the first step in her remodeling plans.
• Plain vanilla is too ordinary for Dana and James Larson. They want a world filled with raspberry, chocolate, lime, and apricot—and they splash those flavors all over the walls.
• Long neglected and overgrown, the garden that Mike Jones and Chris O’Connor inherited when they bought their 1940s bungalow belied the home’s charm.

Anytime a story starts with the word “when,” let it send up a red flag. “When Harry met Sally” leads aren’t bad, but use them sparingly—no more than one per issue.

GRAMMAR: What’s the difference between “anyone” and “any one”?
Last week, we looked at the adverbs “anytime,” “anymore,” and “anyway.” This week, let’s look at the pronouns “anyone” and “everyone.” How do you decide whether the pronoun (one word) or an adjective-noun construction (two words) is correct? Here’s a foolproof method, courtesy of author Patricia O’Conner:
If you can substitute the words “anybody” or “everybody,” then the single words “anyone” and “everyone” are correct. If not, use two words.
correct: The project is so easy anyone could do it.
correct: Any one of the designers is qualified.
correct: Everyone agreed the project turned out better than expected.
correct: Every one of his designs drew praise.

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Spelling: Affect/effect

April 25, 2002: Issue 20

SIM STYLE: Why do I have such a hard time spelling Greg Scheidemann’s name?
I don’t know, but you’re certainly not alone. It’s wrong so often, it warrants its own style point this week. Please note the proper spelling below.
CORRECT: Greg Scheidemann

For more photographer credits see Issues 122663, or Credits section of the SIM Stylebook.

GRAMMAR: What’s the difference between “affect” and “effect”?
Context is important. MOST of the time, “affect” is the verb and “effect” is the noun.
correct: How will the changes affect the building industry?
correct: The long-term effects are uncertain.

But here’s the wrench. Though seldom used, “affect” is also a noun
that describes feelings (“affected” is a common adjective for the hoity- toity crowd). “Effect” is also a verb that means “to bring about.”
correct: She walks around with a gloomy affect.
correct: Her coworkers plan an intervention to effect a change in her demeanor.

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Special Issues: 300th issue video

August 6, 2009: Issue 300

This is our 300th issue of Style on the Go. Lets take a look at how much the world has shifted since we began.




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Special Issue: William Safire

October 1, 2009: Issue 308

William Safire, 1929–2009

William Safire died Sunday at age 79. You didn’t have to agree with the speeches he wrote for President Richard Nixon or with the ultraconservative columns he wrote for The New York Times to appreciate the man’s knowledge—and love—of words.

His “On Language” column was a fixture in the New York Times Magazine for 20 years. He tracked modern word uses, traced archaic meanings, and sometimes showed us that a “new” term or definition was already centuries old.

Safire’s classic “Rules for Writers,” which he compiled in 1979, still reach new readers every day thanks to e-mail forwards and social media. Among them: “Remember to never split an infinitive.” “Don’t use no double negatives.” “Avoid commas, that are not necessary.”

RIP, Mr. Safire. (He would certainly have pointed out that RIP stands for the Latin requiescat in pace, meaning “rest in peace.”)

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SIM/Procedure: Special Interest Publications

June 16, 2005: Issue 94

When you refer to Special Interest Publications or one of its groups, capitalize only the full proper names. Otherwise, use lowercase.
correct: Better Homes and Gardens® Special Interest Publications Family Food Collection
correct: Better Homes and Gardens® special interest garden magazines
correct: Better Homes and Gardens® design publications

NOTE: Special Interest Publications gets a ® only on cover overlines.

In the stylebook

Can’t remember how to make that pesky thin space? Or that dimension X? See the Computer Commands section of BHGStylebook.com.

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SIM/Procedure: SIM website titles

July 5, 2007: Issue 195

NOTE: SIM style on Web site names changed in October 2007. See the new rules.

Site seeing, part I

Website names are proper nouns. When we name a website in body text, the first letter or a logical internal letter must be capped. (We don’t use quotation marks or italics.) Other internal letters may be capped as well. Because we don’t break up a site name with spaces, these capitalized letters help a reader process the name. That’s crucial if we expect her to enter the name in a Web browser.

Here are standard capitalizations for SIM websites:

Sentence capitalization rules still apply: The first letter is always up, whether it’s the t in the, the m in Meredith, or the e in eBay.

In display type, key letters can be emphasized with a type treatment other than caps—weight or size, for instance:

Please note that we’re talking about site names, not URLs. When you list a complete Web address, include the www or http:// and don’t capitalize anything:

Next week: Redirects.

On SIMStylebook.com: Find more about handling website names.

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SIM/Procedure: SIM style changes

July 18, 2002: Issue 30

SIM STYLE: It’s like, you know …
“Like” and other common combining forms, such as “multi,” “proof,” and “side” are joined to words WITHOUT a hyphen.
incorrect: suede-like fabric
correct: suedelike fabric, multilevel house, waterproof material, bedside table

Note: DO use a hyphen if the combined word would bring together three identical consonants.
incorrect: wallless living area
correct: wall-less living area

Note: DO use a hyphen if the combining form joins with a proper name.
incorrect: Eameslike chair
correct: Eames-like chair

Note: DO use a hyphen if the combining form creates a word with a different meaning.
incorrect: multiply plastic
correct: multi-ply plastic

For more information, see the Hyphens section in the SIM Stylebook or Issue 71.

GRAMMAR: What’s the difference between imply and infer?
If you are speaking and you mean to suggest or hint, you are implying something. If your listener picks up on your hint, he or she is inferring something. Speakers (and writers) imply; listeners (and readers) infer.

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SIM/Procedure: SIM manuscripts

January 8, 2004: Issue 73

SIM STYLE: The way we do the things we do
Now that we’re back into the swing of things after the holidays, we continue our focus on SIM routing procedures. Remember to send your questions my way, and I’ll make sure they get addressed in an upcoming issue.

THIS WEEK: Manuscripts
• All manuscripts should route to CEs in story folders. (In a few cases, when nothing more than a hard copy of a Word file is routing, it’s OK to simply attach a routing slip to the printout.)
Why it matters: A story folder helps ensure that the appropriate materials remain together throughout the early editing process. We have, in the past, received stacks of Word printouts, film envelopes, illustrations, etc., all held together by a single paper clip. With the majority of our magazines being sent outside the building for freelance copy editing, do you really want to trust your film to a single paper clip?

• Before routing a manuscript, be sure the correct Word file is clearly labeled in the appropriate folder on the SIM server; its name should match that on the routing slip.

• Attach a completed routing slip to the story folder. Things a story folder should include, where applicable: hard copy of story, film or color copies (or a copy of the photo order if final film is not available), illustrations (or description of illustrations if not done), and floor plans (or a copy of roughs, if final plans are not done).

Things a story folder should not include: red-dot film, original field-editor manuscript (unless there’s a reason to route it with the story).

For more information, see Issue 7274.

GRAMMAR: When do I hyphenate numbers and the words they modify?
A 7-year-old boy is, obviously, 7 years old. A 12-inch-tall plant is, obviously, 12 inches tall. But my point here isn’t to state the obvious; it’s to demonstrate that numbers and the words they modify need only be hyphenated as compound adjectives. When a unit of measure serves as a noun, and the number its adjective, don’t hyphenate.

Tip: Look to the word form for help. Note that in the examples below, “inches” becomes “inch” as part of an adjective; “feet” becomes “foot.”
incorrect: Dig the hole to a depth of 3-inches.
correct:Dig the hole to a depth of 3 inches.
incorrect: Plant the seeds in a 3 inch deep hole.
correct: Plant the seeds in a 3-inch-deep hole. (Notice that the entire compound adjective is hyphenated.)
incorrect: The lot measures 60×100-feet.
correct: The lot measures 60×100 feet.
incorrect: The house sits on a 60×100 foot lot.
correct: The house sits on a 60×100-foot lot.

For more information, see Issue 58.
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