TYPEFACE for punctuation (added here 7.14.16)
Punctuation marks should be in the same typeface as the words they follow. Parentheses (see below) are the exception.
Master woodworker Jim DuBois, left, carved the corbels.

When an asterisk and another mark of punctuation occur together, the asterisk follows the punctuation mark, with no intervening space. The lone exception is a dash; an asterisk comes before a dash.

Use the serial comma.
Do not use the serial comma before an ampersand in heds/subheds.
Beef, Pork & Chicken
Soups, Stews & Chilis

Commas and appositives
An appositive is a word or phrase that explains or amplifies another element in the sentence.
example: Master woodworker Jim DuBois carved the corbels.
In this sentence, Jim DuBois is the appositive of master woodworker.
Writers often wonder whether they should set off appositives with commas.
• When the appositive is essential to understanding the name or term it modifies, you don’t need commas. The example above has no commas because there are many master woodworkers in the world; his name is essential information.
• When the appositive offers nonessential information, you should set it off with commas.
example: Her father, master woodworker Jim DuBois, carved the corbels.
Her father has already narrowed the subject down to one person. The information between the commas gives us more information about him, but it could go away without altering the meaning or structure of the sentence.

Commas and company names (added 9/14/17)
Do not use a comma before Inc., Ltd., and other business suffixes in a company name.

Commas and compound sentences (updated 4/16/20)
Use a comma between two parts of a compound sentence if each part could stand alone as a sentence.
Mellette divided her paper into four sections, and she placed a photo in each quadrant.
If it’s a compound imperative sentence with a conjunction (and, or, but), do not use a comma unless the second verb could be misconstrued as a noun. Do use the comma when an adverb joins the two clauses (then, still).
Select a rub-on and cut it out.
Select a chipboard letter, and glue it in place. (So it doesn’t read that the maker is selecting a letter and glue.)
Set a mood with one color, then accent it with another.

Commas and dates
Use commas to set off the year in a complete date (month, day, and year).
The museum will open April 14, 2007, in Minneapolis.
When you don’t specify a day, you don’t need the commas.
The museum will open in April 2007 in Minneapolis.
The same goes for seasons. You don’t need commas to set off the year.
The museum will open in spring 2007 in Minneapolis.

Capitals after colons
If the word begins an independent clause (one that could stand on its own as a sentence), cap it. If it does not, lowercase it.
correct: The design yields a dramatic result: a dining area bathed in warm, golden-red sunlight every evening.
correct: The design yields a dramatic result: The dining area is bathed in warm, golden-red sunlight every evening.

Colons and prepositions
There’s no need for a colon between a preposition and its object, even when the object is a phone number or a Web address.
incorrect: Call our grammar hotline at: 800/472-6626.
correct: Call our grammar hotline at 800/472-6626.
incorrect: Find more great style tips at: BHGStylebook.com.
correct: Find more great style tips at BHGStylebook.com.

See Dashes.


Use ellipses (option-semicolon, with a thin space on either side) to indicate omission WITHIN quoted material. There is generally no need for ellipses at the beginning or end of a quote, because most quotes are simply snippets of longer conversations. Ellipses can be distracting, so use them sparingly. It’s often preferable to use partial quotes or paraphrase instead.
full quote: “The choice was obvious: The slate tiles, which we imported from a quaint little quarry in Micronesia, provide just the look we were after—sleek, but not cold.”
correctly edited quote: “The slate tiles … provide just the look we were after.” (It’s OK to drop the text at the beginning and end, but ellipses are needed to show that we’ve dropped text within the quote itself.)

In rare cases, ellipses may be used at the end of a quote to indicate speech that trails off.
correct:“Maybe tar wasn’t the best surface material for the patio,” Betsy said as rescue workers freed the last party guest. “It’s just that it was so economical …”


Opening and closing parentheses should always be the same type style. If the type inside is roman or a mix of italic and roman, make the parentheses roman. Italicize parentheses when the type inside them is entirely italic. Make the parentheses bold when the type inside them is entirely bold.
The two found inexpensive accessories at their favorite secondhand shops (where they scored the oversize shoe chair).
Don’t forget about dogwood (Cornus spp.), fragrant and staghorn sumac (Rhus aromatica and R. typhina), and fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii and F. major).
Pink phlox and purple obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) contrast with yellow and white snapdragons.

When you use parentheses, make sure the rest of the sentence—grammar, punctuation, and context—makes sense without the parenthetical information.
incorrect:Jake (and his three horticulturally inclined daughters) spend all winter dreaming up garden plans. [Subject and verb don’t agree.]
correct:Jake (and his three horticulturally inclined daughters) spends all winter dreaming up garden plans.
incorrect: This fabric repels even the toughest stains (tomato juice, red wine, blood.) [There’s no end punctuation.]
correct:This fabric repels even the toughest stains (tomato juice, red wine, blood).

Don’t use initial caps or periods for a complete sentence embedded parenthetically in another sentence.
incorrect: They desperately wanted a place for family meals (The house has no dining room.) and a media room.
correct: They desperately wanted a place for family meals (the house has no dining room) and a media room.

When a complete-sentence parenthetical falls at the end of a sentence, it’s best to break it apart.
acceptable: He’s a champion bargain hunter (his favorite trophy is a $3 armchair).
preferred: He’s a champion bargain hunter. (His favorite trophy is a $3 armchair.)

In many cases, the sentence works just as well without parentheses.
correct: Jake and his three horticulturally inclined daughters spend all winter dreaming up garden plans.
correct: This fabric repels even the toughest stains: tomato juice, red wine, blood.
correct: He’s a champion bargain hunter; his favorite trophy is a $3 armchair.


Coined words: Use quotation marks around coined words.
They used brass tacks for this “spectackular” project.
It was a “spooktacular” Halloween party.
In the context of Facebook and Pinterest, like and pin are no longer considered coined words so do not need quotation marks.

Common expressions: Do not use quotation marks for common expressions or familiar quotations and figures of speech.
The turkey, roasted for Thanksgiving dinner, was done to a turn.
They had not yet begun to fight.
He nailed him to the wall.

(Note: Use such expressions sparingly; most are trite.)

Mottos: Use quotation marks around someone’s motto. If it is within a quote, set it in italics.

Product names: Do not use quotation marks around product names, including paints, wallpapers, etc.

Single quotes: Use single quotation marks rather than double in main headlines, in sidebar headlines, and preceding niche caps.

“So-called” expressions: Quotation marks usually are not needed for words or phrases used with such words as termed, called, so-called, and known. Quotation marks are often used if so-called is omitted.
The so-called cups were made by folding leaves.
They fashioned a “cup” of folded leaves.
Vinca minor, also called periwinkle, makes a good groundcover.

Technical terms: Use quotation marks around technical terms in their first use or words with special meaning in a context that may be unfamiliar to the reader.
Over-the-counter markets all quote prices according to a system of “bid” and “asked.”

Unusual context: Use quotation marks around words used in an unusual context or to mean something other than their usual meaning.
Dusting is the only care your ceramic “pets” will need.
Too many schools “cure” their shortages by using unqualified instructors.

Also see the Titles section of the BHGStylebook.


Inside: Put the period or comma inside closing quotation marks, except in botanical names.
See Chapter 2, “Furniture Styles.”
“You get what you pay for,” as the old saying goes.
One of her favorite plants, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, graces the walkway.

Outside: Put the semicolon or colon outside closing quotation marks.
He made cookie “stoplights”; he put red, yellow, and green gumdrops on logs of dough.
Make cookie “stoplights”: Put red, yellow, and green gumdrops on logs of dough.

Other: Put the dash, question mark, or exclamation point inside closing quotation marks when it applies only to the quotation and outside closing quotation marks when it applies to the whole statement.
In Chapter 2—“Landscaping Your Yard”—you’ll find additional information about planting for privacy.
He asked, “Will we make our deadline?”
Didn’t he say, “We’ll make our deadline”?

To set smart quotes (curly quotation marks) as your default, see the InDesign Tip in Style on the Go, Issue 111.


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Titles of Works

(updated 1/22/19)

Use italics (or opposite typeface) to identify whole works:
• blogs
• books
• CD-ROM titles (not software programs)
• collections of poems and long poems
• magazines
• movies
• museum and art exhibits
• musical compositions (long)
• newsletters
• newspapers
• plays
Her favorite play is She Stoops to Conquer.
• podcasts
• quilt names
• records and tapes
• ships
• TV shows
• videotapes
• works of art

Use quotation marks to identify parts of works:
• articles
• brochures
• episodes of blogs, podcasts, and TV shows
• essays
• magazine stories
• pamphlets
• parts of books, chapters
• poems (short)
• sidebars
• songs
• speech titles

Capitalize, but do not italicize or put in quotes, the names of board games, catalogs, columns, computer/video games, fabric collections, software, video series, wallpaper books, and YouTube videos.
The designer chose wall coverings from the Raymond Waites Manor collection.
Order from the Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel catalog.
Laura used bold prints from the Gardenia collection by Henry Glass & Co.
Joanna and Camille are regular designers for Scrap Lab.

(added 4/16/20) Names of Instagram pages are not set in italics. Different brands can handle the presentation as desired; most put the site in parens like so:
Designer: Sue Smith (Instagram @happyplacequilting)
Dan shares a daily message on his Instagram page (@dansmessages).

See also Capitalization: Websites and Capitalization: Headlines.



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Credits: Copy Editors

(Staff CEs are in bold)

EJA: Liz Anderson
JMC: Julie Collins Bates
ERB: Erika Bjorklund
SXB: Steven Blaski
ASC: Andrea Cooley
NJD: Nancy Dietz
MD: Maria Duryee
MLH: Mary Heaton
AI: Angie Ingle
AJK: Amy Kuebelbeck
MSL: Martha Long
SMM: Sheila Mauck
NJM: Nancy McClimen
JSR: Jennifer Speer Ramundt
AKR: Angela Renkoski

MHS: Mary Helen Schiltz
CAT: Carrie Truesdell (formerly Schmitz)


Copy editors
Field editors
Food stylists


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Credits: Photographers

To credit a company, say “Photo courtesy of”

Photographer credits: style.

Adam Albright
Tatjana Alvegård/Alvegaard
Craig Anderson
Thomas Arledge
Povy Kendal Atchison
King Au
Quentin Bacon
Robert Bailey
Marty Baldwin (on staff)
Andre Baranowski (removed accent from Andre 2/4/16)
Pamela Barkentin Blackburn
Edmund Barr
Gordon Beall
Matthew Benson
John Bessler
Laurie Black
Jeff Blanton
Christiaan Blok
Ernest Braun
Fran Brennan
David W. Brown
Graham Brown
Robert Brown
Steve Budman
Troy Campbell
Rob Cardillo
David Cavagnaro
Ross Chapple
Langdon Clay
Karla Conrad
Kim Cornelison
Grey Crawford
Stephen Cridland
Adam Crocker
J. Curtis
Cheryl Dalton
deGennaro Associates
Laurie Dickson
Mike Dieter
Erica George Dines
Jason Donnelly (on staff)
Carson Downing (on staff) (added 12/13/16)
Andrew Drake
Colleen Duffley
Craig Dugan, Hedrich-Blessing
Rowland Egerton
Patrick Farrell: credit should be Thuss + Farrell
Clint Farlinger
Richard Felber
Tim Fields
Emily J. Followill
John Reed Forsman
D. Randolph Foulds
Jacob Fox (on staff)
Kathryn Gamble
Michael Garland
Bill Geddes
Getty: Getty bought iStock. So all Getty and/or iStock images need to say: Getty Images. e.g., Nottomanv1/iStock by Getty Images (updated 1/29/18)
Joshua Savage Gibson
Susan Gilmore
Laurey W. Glenn (added middle initial 10/30/19)
Tria Giovan
Ed Gohlich
Susan Goldman
Leo Gong
Jay Graham
John Granen
Robert Grant
Karlis Grants
Sam Gray
Bob Greenspan
Jamie Hadley
Steve Hall, Hedrich-Blessing
Linda Hanselman
Chris Hansen
Bob Harr, Hedrich-Blessing
Brian Harrison
Chipper Hatter
Pat Haverfield
Jim Hedrich, Hedrich-Blessing
Craig Dugan, Hedrich-Blessing
Steve Hall, Hedrich-Blessing
Bob Harr, Hedrich-Blessing
Jim Hedrich, Hedrich-Blessing
Scott McDonald, Hedrich-Blessing
Nick Merrick, Hedrich-Blessing
Jon Miller, Hedrich-Blessing
Bob Shimer, Hedrich-Blessing

Chip Henderson
Aimee Herring
Christopher Hirsheimer
Allan Holm
Bill Holt
Jerry Honeywell
Hopkins Associates (credit for Bill Hopkins)
Mike Howes
Roy Inman
Brent Isenberger
iStock by Getty Images (see Getty above)
Jon Jensen
Michael Jensen
Erik Johnson
Gene Johnson
Stephen Kent Johnson (added 8/24/16)
Jenifer Jordan
Dency Kane
John Kane
Lynn Karlin
Keller & Keller
Terri Ketcham
Muffy Kibbey
Susan Kinast
Bert Klassen
Caroline Kopp
Jim Krantz
Pete Krumhardt
David A. Land/Pat Bates & Associates (or David A. Land/Pat Bates)
Details: For main edit stories, it should read David A. Land in byline and Pat Bates & Associates in the gutter. For FOB stories, with the credit in the gutter, use David A. Land/Pat Bates. (updated 4/27/16 and 7/11/16)
Bob Lenz
Frances Litman
Chris A. Little
Scott Little
Mark Lohman
Hal Lott
Janet Loughrey
Sherry Lubic
David Lund
Andy Lyons
Allen Maertz
Charles Mann
Julie Maris/Semel
Dave Marlow
Kevin Marple
Barbara Elliott Martin
Ned Matura
Bob Mauer
Deborah Mazzoleni
David McDonald
Scott McDonald, Hedrich-Blessing
Jeff McNamara
Tom McWilliam
Michael Melman
Rob Melnychuk
Karen Melvin
Nick Merrick, Hedrich-Blessing
Janet Mesic-Mackie
Jon Miller, Hedrich-Blessing
Matthew Millman
William Minarich
Tommy Miyasaki
Blaine Moats (on staff)
Ira Montgomery
Mike Moreland
Gordon Morioka
Tim Murphy
Bill Nellans
Alise O’Brien
Michael Partenio
Brie Passano (on staff starting 2/5/18)
Rick Patrick
Jerry Pavia
Rett Peek
Dan Piassick
M. C. Pindar
Gene Pollux
Diane Pratt
Greg Premru
David Prince
Howard Lee Puckett
Emily Minton Redfield (no hyphen confirmed 1/5/18)
Eric Roth
Kate Roth
Susan Roth
Jeffrey A. Rycus
Cameron Sadeghpour
Eric Salmon
James Salomon
Mark Samu
Kathy Sanders
Jeff Sarpa
Greg Scheidemann
Dean Schoeppner
Nathan Schroder (added 10/25/19)
Julie Maris/Semel
Richard Sexton
Bob Shimer, Hedrich-Blessing
Casey Sills
Brad Simmons
Beth Singer
Michael Skott
Kevin Smith
Lark Smothermon
David Speer
Julie Sprott
William Stites
Marilyn Stouffer
Werner Straube
Perry Struse
Peter Symcox
Rick Taylor
Mark Thomas
Thuss + Farrell (credit for Patrick Farrell)
Andreas Trauttmansdorff
Mark Turner
Joan VanderSchuit
Thomas Veneklasen
Peter Vitale
Dominique Vorillon
Roger Wade
Jessie Walker
Peter Walters
Judith Watts
Wendell Webber
Virginia R. Weiler
Michael Weschler
Deborah Whitlaw-Llewellyn
Brian Whitney
Jay Wilde
Brie Williams
David Wilson
Greg Wilson
John Yanyshyn
James Yochum


Copy editors
Field editors
Food stylists


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Symbols, with the following exceptions, are not used in text. (updated 9.18.19)
This will be several dollars cheaper.
Do you have 35 cents?
The interest rate is 12 percent.
It rests at a 45-degree angle.

Quilting how-to content.

The percent symbol can be used in digital content and in print food ingredients lists and method
[e.g., 50%-less-sodium beef broth, microwave on 50% power (medium)]. (updated 9.18.19)

Product numbers and paintbrush sizes: Use the # symbol.
The hutch (#B4617) is only available online.
Use a #2 liner brush to finish the treatment.

Specific dollar amounts.
The cost is $20.

Temperatures: Use the degree symbol (option-shift-8) and the abbreviation for Fahrenheit (with no space between). For temperatures below 0°F, use a minus sign (hyphen), not an en dash.
The plant is hardy to at least 10°F.
The plant is hardy to at least -5°F.

Symbols are acceptable for tables, charts, and notations on drawings, but use them consistently throughout.
" (inch, inches)
' (foot, feet)
° (degree, degrees)
% (percent)
$ (dollar, dollars)
¢ (cent, cents—except with decimals)

Use Dimension X in all measurements. (Select text, then navigate to Window/Automation/Scripts and select “Convert Characters.” If this script is not installed on your computer, see a staff copy editor.)
Use a 2×4 for the project.

Use symbols, such as ampersands, in company names that use them. Leave space around an ampersand separating words, but not around one separating initials.
It’s manufactured by Smith & Co.
It’s manufactured by B&R Designs.

Abbreviate number (No.) in text material when it precedes a figure.
Use a skein of No. 6 yarn for the project. (not #6)



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Credits: Writers

Emily Anderson (formerly Cook)
Sara Anderson
Barbara Blossom Ashmun
Linda Askey
Debra Lee Baldwin
Amber Dawn Barz
Carrie Bebris
Jennifer Berno DeCleene
Lori Blachford
Mara Boo
David Bradley
Susan Breen
Jessica Brinkert Holtam
Randy Brown
Virginia Campbell
Kim Catanzarite
Maria V. Charbonneaux (formerly Schwamman)
Jill Connors
Gina Covina
Chris Curless
Glenn R. DiNella
Tere Stouffer Drenth
Linnea Due
Beth Dunlop
Kathy Roth Eastman
Sarah Egge
Allison Engel
Sally Finder
Amy Flurry
Kate Carter Frederick
Judith Stern Friedman
Jody Garlock
Krissy Gasbarre
Debra Solberg Gibson
Yvette Gonzales
Wendy Gray
Bob Gulla
Sarah Wolf Halverson (updated 8/14/19)
Catherine Hamrick
Amanda Harling
Jodi Harris (formerly Mensing) (confirmed 1/12/18)
Carolyn Harrison
Andria Hayday
George Hendrix
Miranda Hitti
Christine Hofmann-Bourque
Virginia Houston
Shannon Howard
Megan Hughes (updated 6/20/17)
Kimberly Isburg (formerly Voster)
Todd Keith
Jo Kellum
Jim Kemp
Kristine Kennedy
Roseann Meehan Kermes
Heidi Tyline King
Susan Kleinman
Kathie Kull
Meredith Ladik
Bill LaHay
Amy Leibrock
Michelle Leise
Fani Lemken
Melissa Manning
Candace Ord Manroe
Julie A. Martens
Jennifer Block Martin
Laura C. Martin
Lisa Martin
Sarah Maxwell
Meleah Maynard
Irene McCormick
Linzee Kull McCray
Jill Abeloe Mead
Nancy Richman Milligan
Kimber Mitchell
Linda Montet
Wini Moranville
Renee Freemon Mulvihill
Rhoda J. Murphy
Jean Schissel Norman
Sharon L. Novotne
Jennifer Komar Olivarez
Penelope O’Sullivan
Heidi Palkovic
Cynthia Pearson
Barbara Pleasant
Pamela Porter
Patricia Prijatel
Debra Prinzing
Louise Ritchhart
Kelly Roberson
Marty Ross
Nancy A. Ruhling
Katie Rynard (formerly Stuhler)
Kay Sanders
Donna Sapolin
Elizabeth Grace Saunders
Rebecca Sawyer-Fay
Lynne Meredith Schreiber
Jilann Severson
Michelle Tibodeau Sillman
Molly Reid Sinnett
Steve Slack
Pat Sloan
Linda Joan Smith
Madaline Sparks
Heather Starr
Nan Sterman
Shelley Stewart
Berit Thorkelson
Jessica Tolliver
Kim Waller
Jan Soults Walker
Michael Walsh
Dan Weeks
Karen Weir-Jimerson
Judy West
Claire Whitcomb
Ann Whitman
Jennifer Wilson
Sarah Wolf (See Sarah Wolf Halverson)
Joanne Wolfe
Shaila Wunderlich (formerly Williams)
Kaelin Zawilinski (formerly Tripp)


Copy editors
Field editors
Food stylists


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Trademarks: Common

In general, 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 usually should 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.

Following is a list of common trademarks with the appropriate generic terminology. For a more complete list, search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database.

Anaglypta embossed decorative wall covering
Baggies plastic bags
Band-Aid adhesive bandages
Bel Paese cheese
Bundt pan fluted cake/tube pan
Carborundum abrasive
Chalk Paint paint with a matte, almost chalky, finish
Con-Tact self-sticking covering
Corian solid-surfacing
Corning Ware cookware, ovenware
Cran- cranberry
Crescent wrench adjustable-end wrench
Crock-Pot slow cooker
Cuisinart food processor
Cyclone fence chain-link fence
Dacron polyester fiber/fiberfill
Day-Glo fluorescent
Derby-Pie chocolate-nut pie
Dry Ice refrigerant
Feather Rock lightweight or porous rock
Fiberglas fiberglass/glass fibers
Fiestaware use for Fiesta products made by Homer Laughlin China Co.
Filo phyllo/pastry dough
Flex-arm lamp swing-arm lamp
Formica plastic laminate
Gunite pneumatically applied concrete
Herculon olefin fiber
Hershey’s Kisses Kisses milk chocolates (see Word List)
Hide-A-Bed sofa bed
Hot Tray electric warming tray
Instant Pot multifunction electric pressure cooker
Jacuzzi whirlpool bath
Jell-O gelatin
Jenn-Air self-venting range
Kiddie Kar toy car
Kitty Litter cat box filler
Kool-Aid soft-drink mix
Laundromat coin laundry/self-service laundry
Legos plastic construction toys
Lincrusta decorative wall coverings
Liquid Nails building materials adhesive
Louver drapery vertical blinds
Lucite acrylic resin/acrylic plastic
Lycra spandex fiber
Mace liquid tear gas
Masa Harina tortilla flour
Masonite hardboard/fiberboard
Molly bolt expansion bolt/hollow wall anchor
Mylar clear polyester film
Naval Jelly petroleum jelly
Oasis floral foam (updated 2/6/17)
Peg-Board perforated board/pegboard
Pellon fusible webbing
Ping-Pong table tennis
Plastic Wood wood filler
Play-Doh modeling clay
Plexiglas acrylic plastic/plexiglass
Poly-Fil synthetic fiber
Polyweb fusible webbing
Popsicle frozen dessert/pop stick
Procion fabric dye
Pyrex heat-resistant glassware
Q-Tips cotton swabs
Realtor real estate agent (unless member)
Roquefort blue cheese
Saran Wrap plastic film
Scotchgard protective spray coating
Sheetrock drywall/wallboard/plasterboard
Shabby Chic timeworn elegance/timeworn chic
Simoniz polish/wax
Sonontubes concrete form tubes
Spackle surfacing compound
Spode sponge ware
Stetson high-brimmed hat
Stitch Witchery fusible webbing
Styrofoam foam
Tabasco sauce hot pepper sauce
Teflon fluorocarbon resins/nonstick coating
Thermopane insulated glass
Thermos thermal container
Tinkertoy construction toy
Ultrasuede imitation suede
Vaseline petroleum jelly
Velcro touch fastener/hook-and-loop tape
Vise-Grip locking plier-wrench
Waferwood waferboard
Walkman portable radio/stereo and headphones
Weed Eater grass and weed trimmer
Weight Watchers diet foods
Woodtape decorative wood strips
X-acto crafts knife
Xerox photocopy
Yellow Pages no longer a trademark, but often capitalized
Ziploc resealable plastic storage bags, ziplock plastic bags


Common trademarks
Meredith trademarks

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Generally, a possessive is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s to a word that does not end in s, and only an apostrophe to a word that does end in s.

Singular Plural
Brooks Brookses
child children
lunch lunches
sheep sheep
Sussex Sussexes
lady ladies
man men
passerby passersby
Singular Possessive Plural Possessive
Brooks’ Brookses’
child’s children’s
lunch’s lunches’
sheep’s sheep’s
Sussex’s Sussexes’
lady’s ladies’
man’s men’s
passerby’s passersby’s

Add an apostrophe to a word that ends in an s sound.
for old times’ sake
for conscience’ sake
for appearance’ sake

Add an apostrophe and an s to a foreign name ending in a silent sibilant.
Descartes’s invention
Des Moines’s schools
faux pas’s

Add an apostrophe and an s to the last word of a singular compound noun.
the Governor of Maine’s
the attorney general’s

Use an of phrase to show possession when both a plural and a possessive are involved in a compound noun.
RIGHT: the decisions of the attorneys general
WRONG: the attorneys general’s decisions

Indicate common possession by making only the last item in a series possessive.
Teddy, Peggy, and Nancy’s home

Indicate individual possession by making each item in a series possessive.
Teddy’s, Peggy’s, and Nancy’s homes

The following possessives should be written as singular per Web. 11. (updated 11/21/14)
baker’s yeast
printer’s ink
writer’s cramp

The following possessive should be written as plural per Web. 11. (updated 11/21/14)
confectioners’ sugar

Consider that in some cases words are not possessive but rather descriptive. In those cases, no apostrophes are needed. See descriptive words for more detail. (added 12/3/14)


Descriptive words

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Use italic type to set off titles, foreign words, unvoiced thoughts, and words used as words.
My favorite book is She Wanted to Read.
Schadenfruede means feeling enjoyment from the misfortune of others.
The word purple sounds funny.

Avoid using italics for emphasis because it is as likely to confuse the issue as to clarify it. (All-capital type isn’t a great option for emphasis either. It’s difficult to read and, in the age of e-mail, widely construed as yelling.)

When you want to stress certain words, look for ways to do it with punctuation or sentence structure. Emphasis naturally falls near the beginning and end of a sentence or after strong punctuation marks such as colons and dashes.

Remember, you have to live with your decision.
Remember, YOU have to live with your decision.
Remember who has to live with your decision—you do.
Remember: You have to live with your decision.
You have to live with your decision, remember.