Writing Glitch #161

In case you found that last one too easy (“Commas in compound sentences again?”), here’s another glitch for today:


World-class is a compound adjective; so is handwritten. Unfortunately, there’s no clear, hard-and-fast (see what I did there?) rule about when to use a hyphen for such words and when to run them together into a single word, so you may just have to look a word up if you’re unsure. The compound adjective nine-year-old also needs hyphens (and remember that it’s nine-year-old, not nine year-old or nine-year old).

Money is covered by one of those few exceptions to the rule about spelling out numbers. Says The Chicago Manual of Style (9.16), “If an abbreviation or symbol is used for the unit of measure, the quantity is always expressed by a numeral.” When you use a dollar (or pound, euro, etc.) sign, use numerals, but if you write x dollars, spell it out. (Also, don’t write $10 dollars or $6 thousand. These are redundant and wrong.)

A world-class contract killer finds an envelope at his dead drop. Inside is $23.92 in small change and a letter, handwritten by a nine-year-old girl.



About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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