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What's New

Added the week of April 11, 2004

. . . and won't leave
A nod to the usage book of the hour.

Added the week of March 21, 2004

in happier times
A Sharp Point: The Nine Commandments of Caption Writing.


Added the week of March 14, 2004

bang?
What if they had a shooting and nobody got shot?

finally, finally
"The Elephants of Style" is in stock at Amazon.com.


Added the week of March 7, 2004

finally
"The Elephants of Style" arrived a few hours early at Barnesandnoble.com.

for immediate release
Here is the news release for the new book (Microsoft Word document).


Added the week of Feb. 29, 2004

me, me, me
Some appearances, personal and impersonal, are on the horizon.

new, new, new
Trucker caps, hoodies and other new merchandise in the gift shop.


Added the week of Feb. 22, 2004

I prefer 'Gone With'
Why is "The Passion of the Christ" being called "The Passion"?


Added the week of Feb. 15, 2004

a refresher
If you're new here and haven't read "Lapsing Into a Comma," here's what I think about "email" and "website."

books, books, books
With "The Elephants of Style" off to the printer and headed for bookstores in a little over a month, I redesigned my navigation bar (LAPSING INTO A COMMA gives way to MY BOOKS) to reflect changes here and here. I added "Elephants" to The Book Slot and, sporting fellow that I am, also added links to two big-time competitors with releases scheduled for the same time. Oh, and you can see the final version of the book jacket (warning: large PDF file).


Added the week of Nov. 30, 2003

in defense of '10 items or less'
Rage against the long lines, not the express-lane signs, even if you are taller than me.


Added the week of Nov. 23, 2003

potpourri
What's wrong with the Macy's Day Parade, Indira Ghandi, vicious cycles, the National Organization of Women, a hot dog-eating contest, getting something for free or being home-free?


Added the week of Oct. 19, 2003

an affectionate (uh, right, Phil?) spoof
A fellow member of the World Wide Web-copy-editing-celebrity community sends up The Slot.


Added the week of Oct. 5, 2003

for the record
One not-so-exciting headline gets me all excited.


Added the week of Sept. 21, 2003

elephants
McGraw-Hill's new catalog is out. Usually that isn't such a big event for me.

overage
Do you really hate over that much? And what's so great about "during"?


Added the week of July 27, 2003

staying on topic
The search function on the main page is now vastly improved. I discovered belatedly that Atomz's defaults included case sensitivity and "sound-alike matching," and so I've removed those features. I also segregated The Slot from my more personal ramblings, so now a search for "colon" is less likely to yield color commentary on any endoscopy procedures I may have undergone.


Added the week of June 22, 2003

come on whom?
The comma of direct address is dying all over the place.

a new book
Tell all your friends: "The Elephants of Style" is coming.

opportunity opportunities
Don't "break point" and "power play" mean "break point" and "power play"?


Added the week of March 30, 2003

the usual 'suspect'
Let's call a criminal a criminal.


Added the week of March 30, 2003

fakery is fakery
Is a fake picture worth 1,000 fake words?


Added the week of March 16, 2003

a brief commercial interruption
My book is back in stock at Slot Central, in case you're interested in ordering an autographed copy.

rabbel rowzing
If you're covering the news, you'd better know how to spell protester and demonstrator.


Added the week of Jan. 26, 2003

another math lesson
A flub that's three times more annoying than any other.


Added the week of Dec. 15, 2002

and as the dust settles, when all is said and done
The winner for cliche of the year.


Added the week of Oct. 20, 2002

but, but . . .
"But" is not a toy.


Added the week of Aug. 25, 2002

so many childrens
The apostrophe goes before the s in children's and each other's.


Added the week of June 30, 2002

a years-old problem
Off-balance sheet activities? Well, maybe in Playboy's "Women of Enron" issue.


Added the week of June 2, 2002

sigh-fi
Did you see "Star Wars" this week? No, you didn't!.


Added the week of April 28, 2002

getting "with" it
Don't use within when you mean in.


Added the week of April 14, 2002

department of redundancy department
Finally, someone has noticed that those suicide bombers are committing homicide .


Added the week of Feb. 17, 2002

click
Another off-topic intrusion, I'm afraid: I've added My Capitol Hill, a photographic tour of my neighborhood, to my Web empire.


Added the week of Feb. 10, 2002

a navigation change
For a long time I resisted adding the navigation bar I use at the top of all other pages on this site to the main page, even when self-appointed experts told me how stupid I was being. Nobody has mentioned the subject recently, but suddenly I'm thinking the navigation bar belongs there. So there it is. Maybe someday I'll think about making the background color consistent.

Who's Uncle Harry?
Specificity in writing is a good thing, but sometimes it's used just to be cute.

zero-percent financing
From me to you, some zero-dollar advice.


Added the week of Jan. 6, 2002

everything's ranging
From A to Z, yes. From diapers to snow tires, no.


Added the week of Sept. 30, 2001

a book
Barbara Wallraff's "Word Court" becomes a featured item at The Book Slot.

a book review
From the Copy Editor newsletter, my review of the new AP Stylebook.


Added the week of Sept. 16, 2001

journalistic triage
On the really big stories, copy editing is often marginalized.


Added the week of Sept. 9, 2001

back to the blog
A Web log called The Spin (tennis commentary) joins Off-Topic (criticism at large) as I devote more attention to "blogging." No complaints, please: I will stipulate from the start that these avenues are only for those who really give a damn about what I think.


Added the week of July 29, 2001

effecting an ill-advised change
Impact isn't a verb, but it's a perfectly good noun.


Added the week of July 15, 2001

smoothe operators and soothesayers
Smooth stays smooth, even as a verb.


Added the week of June 24, 2001

by-gones
A byline without a "By" is like a story without an editor.


Added the week of June 10, 2001

a milestone
The Slot's mailing list gained its 1,000th member.


Added the week of April 29, 2001

What about Byorn Borg and John MacEnroe?
Dear Wall Street Journal: Who the heck is Jimmy Conners?

hello, technology
A week after its excellent story on drugs in Hollywood, Entertainment Weekly gets hi.

child's play
Doesn't "T-ball" involve a tee of some sort?


Added the week of April 8, 2001

back from Glitter Gulch
Nothing on usage, I'm afraid, but you'll find a new trip report on my Las Vegas pages.


Added the week of March 11, 2001

joining the clubs
"Lapsing Into a Comma" was chosen as an alternate selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Quality Paperback Book Club.

stamp out stylebook abuse
A Sharp Point: Please read stylebook entries in context.


Added the week of Feb. 11, 2001

headline writer screwed by headline writer
A glowing (that's the standard adjective, right?) review of yours truly's book is spoiled by a headline writer, of all people.

Cliffs Notes
Not Cliff Notes -- or Cliffs Note, or Cliff Note, or Licffs Etson. An exasperated Carets and Sticks entry.

Techie McTech
That would be the star of a new Carets and Sticks entry.


Added the week of Feb. 4, 2001

points that aren't quite as sharp
Carets and Sticks joins Sharp Points as a venue for new content on the site. As with Sharp Points, Carets items will appear in the main window on the home page and be archived on their own page. These will be brief thoughts rather than full-fledged rants.


Added the week of Jan. 28, 2001

you have to do what you have to do
A Sharp Point: Statements without meaning are meaningless.

in search of . . .
The Slot is now searchable, thanks to Atomz. You'll find the search box on the home page. (For better or worse, this search covers all pages in the Bill Walsh oeuvre.)


Added the week of Dec. 24, 2000

at Agriculture, the boss is the secretary of agriculture
As George Quincy Bush picks his Cabinet, I offer a slightly tricky lesson in capitalization.


Added the week of Dec. 10, 2000

just in time for the holidays
No hard sell here, but really big fans of the site might be interested in a shirt, mug or mouse pad bearing the Slot logo.

off-topic
A Web log, or "blog," plunges the author deeper into the pit of self-indulgence.


Added the week of Nov. 19, 2000

you can quote me on this
A Sharp Point: Don't mix partial quotes and full quotes.


Added the week of Oct. 29, 2000

if you ain't from Texas . . .
A Sharp Point: Bush isn't the governor.


Added the week of Oct. 1, 2000

over a (crate and) barrel
A new Sharp Point from the nation's un-capital.

a new sponsor, you might say
I discovered PayPal when my wife was still my girlfriend and we didn't have a joint bank account. We were wired to the hilt, but when it came time for one of us to settle up with the other for the mortgage payment or whatever, that meant writing a check and taking it to the bank. For some reason, banks process checks free but charge fees for a much simpler account-to-account transfer. Enter PayPal, which allows you to send money by e-mail -- free. That comes in handy on eBay. Not only that: PayPal has a generous incentive program. Register (again, it's free) and you and I each get $5. Tell a friend, and you and the friend each get $5. And so on, and so on . . .


Added the week of Sept. 24, 2000

signed, sealed, delivered
You can now order autographed copies of "Lapsing Into a Comma" straight from the horse's, uh, mouth.


Added the week of Sept. 17, 2000

caPITal ideas
A Sharp Point: Company logos do not need to follow the rules of English. Our writing about companies does.


Added the week of Sept. 10, 2000

par-dee
You're invited to the celebration of the release of "Lapsing Into a Comma."


Added the week of Sept. 3, 2000

(some) reviews are in
The Library Journal joins Publishers Weekly among the voices praising "Lapsing Into a Comma."


Added the week of July 30, 2000

updates, updates
Content? There's still plenty of content on the site, even after the deletions forced by the book. Speaking of which, there are new pages focusing on the cover, the table of contents, the reviews and an ad that I hope makes it into the New Yorker.


Added the week of July 16, 2000

added . . . and subtracted
Good news: The book is out. Go to Amazon.com to order a copy or three. Bad news: My contract restricts my on-line use of material that appears in the book, so the site is a tad slimmer today. But you can build it back up by asking good questions! Read on.


Added the week of April 9, 2000

wedding pictures
Sorry. Ignore this if you're not interested, but if you are you'll find one on my personal page and more on my wife's evolving official wedding site. You can also read dispatches from the wedding trip at my Las Vegas site.


Added the week of Feb. 29, 2000

a talking point
A Sharp Point: "Dot.com" equals "dot dot com."


Added the week of Feb. 6, 2000

letters perfect
A Sharp Point: A recognizable abbreviation trumps an obscure spelled-out term.


Added the week of Jan. 23, 2000

a redesign
It's just the home page for now, but eventually the entire site will take on a more modern, less cheesy look. Special thanks go out to Jacqueline Dupree, who envisioned the Warhol-esque "About the Author" icon and contributed a wealth of other ideas both technical and artistic.


Added the week of Jan. 2, 2000

metaphor and reality
During their harrowing flight, Apollo 13's crew members really kept their feet on the ground.

Added the week of Dec. 19, 1999

the bookstore grows
The Book Slot expands beyond stylebooks to include dictionaries, language-maven books and more. Heck, order all your books, music, toys and electronics through this link!

The year 2000 revisited
I re-emphasize a SHARP POINT about the "millennium" issue, pointing out that there's a middle ground between spoilsport-purist and ignorant lemming.

More news on the book front
We have a cover design and a publication date for "Lapsing Into a Comma," the handy book version of The Slot.


Added the week of Dec. 12, 1999

The Book Slot
More commercialism, just in time for the holidays! The Book Slot soon will enable you to order my book, "Lapsing Into a Comma," and other usage manuals and dictionaries, but for now it's a great source for stylebooks.


Added the week of Oct. 31, 1999

It's All About the Abrahams
A little writing that's not about editing -- a tongue-in-cheek but almost 100 percent factual account of my recent trip to Las Vegas. Please forgive this interruption.


Added the week of July 18, 1999

syntax and respect
Current-events quiz: What is illiterate about the phrase John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and sister-in-law?


Added the week of March 28, 1999

un-splitting infinitives, verbs and what have you
It's what hacks do when they should be editing copy.

highway or 'the' highway
A Sharp Point: Screenwriters need to learn that outside California we say "I-10," not "the 10."


Added the week of Jan. 3, 1999

millennium bugged
A Sharp Point: One n vs. two, 2000 vs. 2001, and what is a millennium anyway?


Added the week of Dec. 27, 1998

The United Nations
A Sharp Point: The U.N. could use some help with the A-B-C's.


Added the week of Sept. 13, 1998

passive aggressiveness
A Sharp Point: The active voice isn't always better.

middle initials
A Sharp Point: William F. Buckley, yes. Monica S. Lewinsky, no.

ACES
A link to the American Copy Editors Society's Web site.


Added the week of May 24, 1998

how a copy desk works
The cast of characters, and what they do.

when the 'last line of defense' failed
A dose of reality that every copy editor can relate to, by my Post colleague Bob Williams. It's from 1978, but ignore the references to editing with a pencil and it's timeless.

how to become a copy editor
I must make this sound way too glamorous. Why else would people be asking such a question?

no, I don't need my space
In newspaper style, it's W.F. Walsh, not "W. [space] F. Walsh."


Added the week of Feb. 15, 1998

clipping penalties
A Sharp Point: Van Dorn Street isn't "Van Dorn," and Mount Vernon Square isn't "Mount Vernon."


Added the week of Dec. 7, 1997

capital ideas
An updated Sharp Point: The first word in a sentence is capitalized, no matter how you'd style it otherwise.

when slang is just plain lazy
A Sharp Point: Put on your tux, eat some veggies, and hop into your limo for a ride to Vegas.


Added the week of Nov. 2, 1997

copy editors and proofreaders
What's the difference? Read the revised WHAT EXACTLY IS A COPY EDITOR? section.


Added the week of Oct. 5, 1997

arbitrary capitalization
A Sharp Point, if you'll forgive the capped S and P.


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