Of course there are the standards like their/there/they’re, ending sentences with prepositions, and — one I’ve seen a lot lately — congrads/congradulations.
And I have my own that kill me every time (Choose and chose — which one’s which? When do I use it’s and when do I use its?).
But the two that I see that just annoy the heck out of me are these bad boys:
Double-spacing between sentences
Yes, it used to be taught in writing classes that you must leave two spaces between sentences. The reason being that all typing was done on typewriters.
On a typewriter, all letters take up the same amount of space, whether it is a skinny letter like ‘i’ or a wide letter like ‘m.’ Because of this spacing issue, it was difficult to tell where one sentence ended and the other began. The double-spacing made this clearer.
Computer fonts are more proportional in size and spacing, making the double-space unnecessary. In fact, double-spacing can throw off the typesetting of a magazine, newspaper, or book layout, making the final product look skewed.
Your editor and layout designer will not be particularly happy with you if they have to go through your work and correct your double-spacing spree. It also makes it more difficult for readers — who are now used to the single-space format — to read.
So, save everyone involved some time and spare a few trees by putting an end to your double-spacing days.
Using hyphens instead of dashes.
A hyphen is a small bar (-) used to connect words and keep syllables together when the full word does not fit on the same line.
Connecting words: dim-witted, so-and-so, fine-toothed, double-spaced.
Keeping syllables together: “The police were disturbed by the young man’s indiffer-
ence to the property of others.”
So many people-for some unknown reason-use hyphens when they should be using dashes.
‘People’ and ‘for’ should not be connected. The same goes for ‘reason’ and ‘use.’ Who ever heard of a people-for or a reason-use? Nor are they syllables of the same word that need to be kept together with a hyphen for spacing purposes. Yet hyphens are used in both instances in the sentence above.
A dash is a longer bar (–) that is meant to separate thoughts and put in asides or extra information pertaining to the sentence.
“So many people — for some unknown reason — use hyphens when they should be using dashes.”
See, now isn’t that so much better?
What is your biggest writing pet peeve? Any suggestions or tips on how writers can avoid making those mistakes?
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