Clichés on Trial

How far would you go to avoid using a cliché? The second half of this NYT post has useful perspective on the perils—and merits—of oft-used phrases. The moral of the story: If there is thought behind the cliché, why avoid it? As long as you are keeping the focus on your ideas and not on your turn of phrase, you are in good shape. Image from The Cliché Challenge: How Various Clichés of the Media and Establishment are Faring...

Ask TWEED: How Do I Cite DVD Bonus Features?

Dear TWEED Editing: My roommate is doing a paper on a film and wants to quote the director from the director’s commentary. Do you have a website recommendation that would explain how one could properly format that in their ‘Works Cited’ section? –M.G. Esteemed TWEEDLE, The answer will depend somewhat on what citation guide you are using—usually Chicago, MLA, or APA. Because you work in the arts, I’m going to assume that APA is not your format and move on to the others. MLA is probably your citation style if you are using parenthetical citations in the paper, with a works cited list at the end. MLA does not give a specific format for citing director commentary on DVD, but here is an excellent—if I do say so myself—paradigm to follow: Gondry, Michel and Charlie Kaufman. Audio commentary. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Dir. Gondry. Perf. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Kirsten Dunst. Focus Features, 2004. DVD. (Remember to use a hanging indent for works cited entries!) To break that down, all participants in the commentary are listed first. If you are citing a specific quote in your paper, then do introduce the speaker of that particular snippet in the body of your paper. The parenthetical citation would look something like this, for instance: (Gondry, 2004). The director is always indicated after the film title, but I also included what MLA calls “other data that seem pertinent”—here, the marquee performers. You might also want to include the screenwriter or producer, for instance. These would also go between the title and distributor, after the director. If your film has...

These people get it

From Miss Moss comes this update on London’s 2010 Tweed Run. Click through for video proof of the tweediness. Such events are something of a trend these days, with my fair city of Portland, Oregon, following suit. (Get it? Suit?!) Here’s the link to the London Tweed Run. Here’s Portland. ~ TWEED offers services and packages for all of your academic editing...

“Scared”? The Punctuation That’s Eroding Your Credibility

One of the most powerful tools—and persistent hobgoblins—of communicators is the use of scare quotes. They’re used to distance the writer from the term in question. When someone makes the two-finger air-quotes gesture while speaking, that’s the real-world equivalent of written scare quotes. Examples: astrological “science” “life” in prison The scare quotes strongly imply that astrology isn’t really a science and question the degree to which incarceration can be considered truly living. To an extent, the quotation marks are useful. They quickly signal to a reader that a term is to be treated with a grain of salt. But scare quotes can easily and quickly be overused, diluting their power. To avoid this happening to you, dear reader, follow these handy tips: Say what you mean. Sometimes scare quotes force your readers to guess which aspect of the term you are undercutting. (Are you saying that astrology is regrettably unscientific or that astrology should aspire to be an art rather than a science? What is it about calling astrology a science that you find objectionable?) Good writing shouldn’t be a guessing game for readers. Don’t use scare quotes when words will do the job. The Chicago Manual of Style suggests using “so-called” before the dubious term. The example given is as follows: So-called child protection sometimes fails to protect. Don’t use quotes for emphasis; they can easily be taken for scare quotes. There’s nothing more cringe-inducing than quotation marks used to denote emphasis: Try these “all-beef” hot dogs! If you want your impassioned statements to be taken seriously, skip the quotation marks; consider italics. In case you need more...

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