7 style guide rules to remember

Do you know the difference between a ‘pom-pom’ and a ‘pompon’? What about when to use ‘beside’ or ‘besides’? These style guidelines can help.

Ragan Insider Content

It’s like Christmas in February.

Recently, a colleague and I were talking about style guides and about the differences among all the style guides we’ve used in our careers. A few days later, he brought in a copy of an in-house style guide he’d used at a previous job.

It’s entrancing to read what’s included in the style guide and why—entrancing to think about the stories behind the entries. (There’s a section in this style guide titled “Pet Peeves.”)

Of course, it’s also reaffirming to realize that others have the same style issues that we do—serial commas, health care as two words, the use of utilize.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far.

Alumna/alumnae
An alumna is one woman. Alumnae are women.

Alumni/alumnus
Alumni are men and women. An alumnus is one man.

Beside/besides
Beside means (1) at the side of (Sit beside me.); (2) to compare with (Beside Patrick O’Brian, all other authors fall short.); (3) apart from (That’s beside the point.)

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.