Tag Archives: punctuation

does giuliana need a j-school refresher?

OK, so picking on celebrity Tweets is a little like shooting fish in a barrel, but Giuliana Rancic is not only a reporter — she’s managing editor of E! News and has a master’s degree in journalism. So there’s no excuse for this error. The correct way to write the possessive here is “Tiger Woods’ first interview” or “Tiger Woods’s first interview,” depending on which stylebook you follow. (The former is AP, the latter Chicago.)  But “Tiger Wood’s”? Social media is still media, folks!


quick tip: punctuation in photo captions

Check out my meticulously edited captions in the first issue of M.

I’m starting to proof layouts for the next issue of M Music & Musicians, and one of my most common fixes is on photo captions. Magazines have varying styles when it comes to punctuating captions, but I like to follow a simple rule. If the caption is a complete sentence — “Green Day performed at the 2010 Grammys with the cast of American Idiot.” — it should have a period. But if it’s not a full sentence — “Green Day at the 2010 Grammys” — leave the period off. Sometimes people see this and cry, “Inconsistent!” because some captions have periods and others don’t. But I think it’s the lesser of several evils.

quick tip: capitalization after colon

I’m increasingly a fan of colons in sentences, especially if it works as well as a dash, which I rely on way too much in my writing.

But there’s one colon quirk you have to keep in mind: If the words after it form a complete sentence, the first letter needs to be capitalized. (Whoa, that was so meta!)

serial comma usage

Want to rile up a bunch of editors? (Why would you? I don’t know. Just go with it.) Ask their opinion on the serial comma.

A serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma, is one that is placed before the last item in a series. In the sentence, “To make a martini, you need vodka, vermouth, and olives,” the serial comma is the one that appears after ‘vermouth’ and before ‘and olives.’

I like the uncluttered feel of a series without that final comma: “To make a martini, you need vodka, vermouth and olives.” But I’m flexible and will use it in longer sentences if I feel like the reader will trip over words without it. Other advocates of the serial comma say it better mimics conversational cadences.

Like all matters of style, it’s best to identify your preference and stick with it. Either way, you’ll be in good company. While, AP style omits the serial comma, Chicago Manual of Style, AMA and APA all require it.