November 13, 2003: Issue 71
SIM STYLE: Color rule redux
Which of the following examples is hyphenated correctly?
example one: The room’s focal point is a forest green wall.
example two: The room’s focal point is a cherry-red wall.
Would you believe both are correct? SIM style is to defer to Webster’s 11th on hyphenation of colors—in all uses. “Forest green” is in Web 11 as two words, so that’s how it appears in SIM copy, even as an adjective. “Cherry red” is not in Web 11, so just as with any other compound adjective, it’s hyphenated.
When faced with a color question, start by looking it up in Web 11. If the color appears there, you’re in the clear: Treat it the same way in all uses. If a color is not in Web 11, SIM style generally follows standard rules of hyphenation. The new (updated May 2003) step-by-step color rule in the SIM Stylebook will help you with any specific color. Just start with Step 1 and continue answering “yes” or “no” until you find the correct style.
Note: Two-color combinations, such as “blue-green” and “orange-red” are always hyphenated.
For more information see Issue 30.
GRAMMAR: Do “if” and “whether” mean the same thing?
No, they don’t. These conjunctions are used in much the same way, but the two have distinctly different meanings that are often confused. Use “if,” which means “in the event that,” to signify a conditional—a hypothetical event, probable or improbable. Use “whether,” which means “if it happens that,” to signify two or more alternatives.
correct: If it rains today, the event will be canceled.
correct: If Shelly can’t make it, Juanita will go in her place.
correct:She said that if she can’t attend, Juanita will make the presentation.
incorrect: Shelly doesn’t know yet if she can go.
correct:Shelly doesn’t know yet whether she can go.
correct: The presentation will be made regardless of whether Shelly attends.
incorrect: Shelly asked if she had researched costs.
correct:Shelly asked whether she had researched costs.
correct: Juanita wasn’t sure whether the cost information was accurate.