Thursday, September 22, 2011

Higher Editing: Eliminate these common errors

Have you hugged your editor today? If not, you can at least make sure you're avoiding the following common errors in your higher education prose:
  • Incorrect use of "alumni." If you don't want to accidentally change the gender of an honored graduate, please commit the following list to memory:
  • More than one graduate, including at least one male: ALUMNI
  • More than one graduate, all female: ALUMNAE
  • One male graduate: ALUMNUS
  • One female graduate: ALUMNA
  • There's no such thing as an "ALUM" unless you're talking about chemistry (the subject itself, not your academic department)
  • Hosting a "first annual" event. There's no such thing. There are "first" or "inaugural" events, both of which imply that there will be subsequent events. However, you can't have an "annual" event until it is held two consecutive years.
  • "Univeristy." This is one that spell-check should catch every time, but it still gets by on occasion.
  • "Graduating a school." This isn't my personal pet peeve, but it is one brought up by legal writing guru Bryan Garner during his commencement speech last year. Correct usage: graduating from a school.