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 -
As you can see, the [Chinese] typewriter is extremely complicated and cumbersome. The main tray — which is like a typesetter's font of lead type — has about two thousand of the most frequent characters. Two thousand characters are not nearly enough for literary and scholarly purposes, so there are also a number of supplementary trays from which less frequent characters may be retrieved when necessary. What is even more intimidating about a Chinese typewriter is that the characters as seen by the typist are backwards and upside down! [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Feb 27, 2012 -
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 -
Do you have a favorite kanji character?
I like this one: 峠
because it reminds me of a poem by Christina Rossetti:
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men
(what I mean is, it’s terribly nice to have the radicals for mountain, up and down form the character).
I’m very fond of 競 because it makes me think of two men skating with their arms behind their backs in a Dutch painting, wearing black frock coats and breeches.
明 is not very exotic, of course, but it’s nice to have the word for ‘bright’ represented by the sun and moon – this is a bit like certain German words, where the elements of a phenomenon are put together for the word: there’s Morgengrauen (morning grey) for the sky lightening to grey just before dawn, and Morgenröte (morning red) for the sky when it first turns red, similar sort of thing.
with Helen DeWitt,
author of The Last Samurai
, Your Name Here
, a novel written with Ilya Gridneff,
and the forthcoming Lightning Rods.
DeWitt will be in New York September 8 - 11.
posted by xod
on Aug 19, 2011 -
"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 -
Make your handwriting into a font with Yourfonts
. Download the PDF, draw your alphabet, scan and upload, then download the finished result. Examples
. Via Drawn!
posted by Rinku
on Feb 2, 2009 -
International House of Logorrhea
, at The Phrontistry
, a free online dictionary of weird and unusual words to help enhance your vocabulary. Generous language resources, 2 and 3 letter Scrabble words
l The Compass DeRose Guide to Emotion Words
l all kinds of glossaries for color terms
, love and attraction
, scientific instruments
, manias and obsessions
, feeding and eating
, carriages and chariots
, dance styles
and all kinds of fun word stuff. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye
on Jan 11, 2009 -
The end of cursive?
When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters. "Cursive -- that is so low on the priority list, we really could care less. We are much more concerned that these kids pass their SOLs [standardized tests]."
posted by stbalbach
on Oct 11, 2006 -
Grind. Endless drudgery. Too much in your in-tray, not enough in your out-tray. You put your headphones on, but it doesn't really help. You want a distraction - just for a moment or two. "A happy employee is a productive employee" you justify to yourself, although you're not convinced. Then it happens. A 24 carat nugget of plain text escapism lands in your in-box. You're an alt-tab, double-click away from sheer bliss. DNRC
; FlipFlopFlyin Newsletter
; The Plain Text Gazette
; and the previously mentioned Snowmail
and Newsnight Newsletters
, which take a less formal but equally sharp look at the day's news, with anecdotes and observations thrown in. What other quality plain text mail lists are around?
posted by nthdegx
on Sep 29, 2004 -
Oxford's guide to collective terms for animals
is a useful and fascinating although all-too-brief resource. Collective terms for birds are some of my favourites: an unkindness of ravens; a murmuration of starlings; a richness of martens. Bees and sheep seem to have a lot of collective terms. I can't imagine why. Altogether, though, I found one of the terms for for ferrets to be the pick of the bunch.
posted by nthdegx
on Jan 13, 2003 -
Metaphysical significance of punctuation marks (a)
Periods . and commas , are lovely because they are simple... Semicolons ; are pretentious and overactive...Italics
rarely fail to insult the reader's intelligence..."Quotation marks" create the spurious impression of an aristocracy of sensibility...The exclamation point ! is obviously too emphatic, too childish, for our sophisticated ways...Questions ? and exclamations ! betray a sense of inquisitiveness and wonder that is distinctly unmodern....(parentheses) and - dashes - betoken stylistic laziness, a failure of discipline....(a) content footnotes are symbols of failure.
posted by Voyageman
on Jun 8, 2002 -
Well, I'm compleetly fed up with english speling for everything. Its so dammed inconsistant and ilogical, Ill never get the hang of it. Forchunately, now theres a way to express yourselfs using chinese-like english characters. It's called Yingzi
and now you can write english as quickly as you can write
posted by lagado
on Jul 23, 2000 -
Are You 3000 Plus?
Find out just how good your web writing is with this revolutionary online tool developed by the super-secret TSD Labs. Complex natural language analysis is performed to determine the complexity, readability, and likability of your writing.
posted by daveadams
on Apr 2, 2000 -