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Grammar Nuggets: Capitals, Colons, and More

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 23, 2017

Time for a few quickies. 

· Is Internet Capitalized? I have seen it both ways and, although the Associated Press and the Chicago Manual of Style said that the Internet, as “one big specific network that people visit,” should be capitalized, the Associated Press stylebook said just about a year ago that “internet” and “web” should not be capitalized. The Gregg Reference Manual says the capitalized Internet is the “global system of linked computer networks,” while the lowercased internet refers to local area networks linked to each other but not to the Internet. Since they all disagree about capitalization, I think you are safe to lowercase “internet.”

 

· What About the Web and Website? The Web is short for the World Wide Web. The Associated Press changed their recommendation about a year ago to lowercase “web,” as does the Chicago Manual of Style, who says that the word web standing alone may be lowercased. However, website is a more generic term that can refer to any number of different sites, so it is not capitalized. Just to keep things really confusing, The Gregg Reference Manual says that Web site is commonly two words with Web capitalized and until the World Wide Web loses its capitalization through popular usage, Web site should be capitalized. Since I am primarily a Gregg user, I guess I will use Web site. Compound words that include web (such as webcam and webinar) are not capitalized.

 

· How Many Spaces After a Colon? Again, back in the old days, there were always two spaces after a colon. Now that we are using more proportional type and using only one space after a period, one space is more appropriate. 

 

· When is Next Wednesday? Since people understand different words different ways, it is always confusing to use the term next Wednesday. Does that mean the next Wednesday after today or the Wednesday in the next week? As it is so confusing, best practice is not to use next in this context, but to be more specific about what day you are actually talking about. Instead of next Wednesday, it is more clear to say Wednesday, February 13, or Wednesday a week from tomorrow.

 

· Hint for PossessivesAs you may know, misuse of apostrophes to make plural words possessive is my biggest pet peeve. I will admit that sometimes I have issues figuring it out—particularly when the base word is a bit unusual. In those cases, I substitute the problem word for a more generic word. For example, if I am trying to decide if the name Andrews is plural, I might substitute Smith. So in the sentence I knew the Andrews car was in the neighborhood by the rumble of the stereo, I substitute Andrews with Smith, and I know that the Smith car would not be possessive, so my sentence is fine the way it is. If my example was I knew Mr. Andrews’ car was in the neighborhood . . . and I replaced it with I knew Mr. Smith’s car was in the neighborhood . . . I know that it should be possessive. Choosing a simple substitute word to make a possessive will help you make your word correct.

 

If you have a quickie question or a tip that helps you remember a grammar rule, send it to me (proofthatblog@gmail.com) and I will answer it for you and others who probably have the same questions or share your tip so that we can all learn something.


 

Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, has been a member of NALS for over 30 years, is the Immediate Past President of NALS of Phoenix, and is the Vice Chair of the NALS Editorial Board. Kathy is currently the Administrator-Arizona for Sacks, Ricketts & Case in Phoenix, Arizona. Kathy earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Legal Assisting (with distinction) from Phoenix College. In her spare time, when she is not spending time with her husband, two kids, and seven grandchildren or celebrating something with friends, Kathy writes a blog on proofreading tips at http://proofthatblog.com

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