dangling modifiers

Careful writers avoid these. A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies either a term that has been omitted from a sentence or a term to which it cannot easily be linked. The modifying phrase preceding the comma in the second example below is a dangling modifier because it seems to modify the test rather than the sentence's ostensible subject, the people who arrived late.

Having arrived late, we missed the beginning of the test.
NOT Having arrived late, the test was in progress when we started.

> See also: based on | due to | hopefully | thankfully

data (plural), datum (singular)

The singular is rarely used. To avoid the tricky question of subject-verb agreement presented by the word data, which can be used as either a singular or a plural, try using synonyms: research, research findings.

> See: collective nouns


List years using all four numerals.2018 NOT '18
To show a span of years, list all four numerals for both years and separate the years with an en dash.2006–2007 NOT 2005–07
How to express centuries and decadesthe 20th century, the 1880s but NOT the 1880's
Generally spell out full names of days and months.
*Abbreviations are preferred online and acceptable in charts, tables, or advertising matter with limited space.
Tuesday NOT Tues.
January NOT Jan.
Use three-letter abbreviations for months in tablesJan, Jun, Jul, Sep, Oct
Commas separate days from dates, dates from year, and full date from sentence when written out in full. Month and year only, or year only, should not be separated. Note the punctuation of these sentencesThe events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, were unforgettable. The events of December 1941 were decisive. The events of spring 2020 will determine the future of the business.
> See also: Punctuation Particulars
Although the day of the month is actually an ordinal (and pronounced that way in speaking), the American practice is to write it as a cardinal number.April 18 NOT April 18th

decision maker

An open compound such as decision maker is rendered as two or more words without hyphenation. Words rendered as hyphenated or closed compounds are generally found in the dictionary.

dining room, best seller, bookstore, flowerpot, name-dropper, full-size


> See: academic degrees


For statements of comparison, use different from, not different than.

directions and regions

Lowercase terms such as north, northeast, and south when they indicate compass directions. Capitalize them when they designate regions:

This university is located just east of Atlanta's downtown.
I enjoy living in North Georgia, but I miss Southern California and the West Coast in general.

Note: Names of countries take capitals: South Korea, Northern Ireland.

> See also: capitalization


The preferred term for people with physical or intellectual disabilities.


The preferred term is residence hall.

dual-degree (adj.), dual degree (noun)

As an adjective, this phrase takes a hyphen: The versatile young woman sought a dual-degree program in Spanish and international business.
As a noun, no hyphen: The young man has a dual degree in engineering and psychology.

due to

Often misused, so watch out. Avoid beginning a sentence with this phrase; the safest place for it is after a form of the verb to be.

The cancellation was due to bad weather.
NOT Due to bad weather, the game was canceled.

When in doubt, see if you can substitute the phrase caused by. If you can, your sentence is correct.

> See also: based on