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The CIA is a prescriptivist scold

Writing tips from the CIA’s ruthless style manual:

Strunk & White, it turns out, were CIA sources. The authors of The Elements of Style, a classic American writing guide, are cited alongside Henry Fowler, Wilson Follett, and Jacques Barzun in the Directorate of Intelligence’s Style Manual & Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications, whose eighth edition (from 2011) was quietly posted online (pdf) by the legal nonprofit National Security Counselors a little over a year ago, following a Freedom of Information Act request. [more inside]
posted by moody cow on Jul 10, 2014 - 30 comments

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

If you use Americanisms just to show you know them, people may find you a tad tiresome, so be discriminating.
You may have to think harder if you are not to use jargon, but you can still be precise.
Use all metaphors, dead or alive, sparingly, otherwise you will make trouble for yourself.
Some words add nothing but length to your prose.

(Notes from The Economist's style guide.)
posted by Joey Bagels on Feb 24, 2012 - 126 comments

Does digital writing leave fingerprints?

"When legal teams need to prove or disprove the authorship of key texts, they call in the forensic linguists. Scholars in the field have tackled the disputed origins of some prestigious works, from Shakespearean sonnets to the Federalist Papers."
Decoding Your E-Mail Personality Ben Zimmer, of Language Log discusses the Facebook case and forensic linguistics in the NY Times. [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam on Aug 2, 2011 - 13 comments

Direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid.

The "King of English", H.W. Fowler wrote A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Although "modern linguists are almost by definition incapable of understanding the function of a book like Fowler’s Dictionary", the "half-educated Englishman of literary proclivities" who just wants to know: "Can I say so-&-so?’" may now buy the classic first edition of the Dictionary again. An earlier book, The King's English, is free for anyone seeking advice on Americanisms, Saxon words, the spot plague, archaism or split infinitives.
posted by TheophileEscargot on Mar 3, 2011 - 27 comments

'Critique' is a noun. If you want a verb, try 'criticise'.

Some common solecisms (grammatical absurdities) from the Style Guide of The Economist
posted by blasdelf on Jun 1, 2009 - 127 comments

Calling all Grammar Schoolmarms

"Even a brilliant piece of writing will have difficulty finding a publisher if the author has neglected to dress his manuscript decently." 'The Chicago Manual of Style' enters the 21st century. Calling all MeFi Schoolmarms! (Also: CSM New Questions & Answers)
posted by ColdChef on Jul 24, 2003 - 26 comments

15 of the 18

15 of the 18 sentences beginning with the word "Well" in this transcript mark a speaker responding to a question or taking his/her turn. I'm sick of it.
posted by Mo Nickels on Feb 23, 2001 - 27 comments

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