The em dash is a bit of a jerk — replace it whenever possible

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Unless — and I admit this is possible — you’re trying to annoy the reader, try not to fall in love — or even in like — with the em dash. So many manuscripts I edit suffer from inflammation of the em dash — it’s rampant — as if these little buggers multiply like cockroaches. … Continued

The hidden mental models behind the fight over the Oxford comma

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A nasty, permanent spat burns in the heart of analysts of the English language. It’s the fight over the need for the Oxford or serial comma — for example, do you really need the final comma in the phrase “passive voice, weasel words, and jargon”? Now that a court in Maine has decided a case based on the … Continued