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Advice for Mass Market Authors

We created this site (long ago in 1996) with authors in mind and continue to focus on writing for general audiences. Articles in the Tameri Guide for Writers reflect our experiences as professional writers and editors. Some teachers complain that our choices are not “proper” for their students. Instructors should remind students that an academic setting is not the same as writing in other contexts. If you are a student, use any grammar and style guides endorsed by your instructors.

The truth is that there are grumpy grammar geeks who manage to argue with each other endlessly. We know that battles are waged over split infinitives and sentences ending with prepositions. English rules are relatively new, created by men and women who wanted a “proper” English grammar. The rules anyone decides to accept are often a matter of preference. We claim no authority other than the fact the rules we cite are those we have encountered while working as writers and editors.

If you want to challenge an editor or instructor, buy a really heavy and impressive book like Bryan A. Garner’s Modern American Usage. We also recommend other resources for information. See our list of suggested books for writers and editors.

For Writers, Not Scholars

The Tameri website provides suggestions to writers, editors, instructors, and students interested in writing for general audiences. Our website covers the writing, editing, formatting, and marketing of literary and dramatic works. Although we address some academic writing topics, we recommend other resources for scholarly writing guidelines. Because our focus is writing for popular audiences, some suggestions do not apply to academic settings.

We explain the reasons for our recommendations based on publishing outside academia. For example, the 2011 edition of the AP Stylebook adopted email in place of e-mail. A year earlier, AP accepted the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) recommendation that website replace Web site. Academic standards for writing evolve slowly, clinging to traditions originating in past technologies and publishing processes.

Academic Writing

As mentioned above, we strongly encourage visitors to rely on other sources for academic writing guidelines. We value citations and proper formatting, but the rules of academic manuscript formatting and style are not our expertise. We suggest consulting the current editions of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the Publication Manual of the APA when composing and formatting academic papers. Online, we suggest the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) as a resource for students and instructors.

We Happen to Be Right Sometimes

Grammar rules are not laws. Many of the suggestions and “corrections” we receive represent matters of style. The style guides and manuals of organizations such as Modern Language Association and the Associated Press are updated on a regular basis. When a conflict exists among the dominant style arbiters, we have selected the best answer for the intended users of this guide. The guidelines we offer via the Tameri Guide for Writers are not the only answers — only our preference for mass market media.

One source of confusion has been our use of the semicolon (;). A semicolon joins two independent (“main”) clauses. Several visitors have suggested wrongly that such sentences are “run-on” and should be edited. No, the clauses relate closely and we believe using semicolons indicates clearly that the clauses should be thought of together. We also use commas more liberally than many current texts suggest. This might be because instead of misusing commas it is easier to omit them. Most English usage guides are moving towards fewer “mandatory” uses for commas.

If you do have a complex correction or suggestion, it is helpful if you include an academic source for the correction. Also, you should include the Web page URL from the Tameri Guide that needs to be updated.

Special Thanks

We owe a debt of gratitude to those students and interns who helped with research and page layout over the years: E. Coker, A. Long, N. Goncharova, M. Toledo, and K. Watrus.