Spelling Authority: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary

1. Italicize titles of albums, movies, or television series, as well as the titles of all publications: books, magazines and other periodicals, newspapers, etc. Titles should be fully spelled out on first occurrence but may be shortened on subsequent mention. Shortened versions or subsequent mentions of titles should also be italicized. (i.e. Winter in the Blood or Winter)

2. Place song titles and lyrics, television episode titles, book chapter or section titles, and article titles in quotes, not italics.

3. For Q & A articles, separate questions from responses by space and typeface (either bold or italicized). Questions should be preceded by a “V:” and responses should be preceded by the first letter of the respondent's last name and a colon. On first occurrence, spell out “Variance” and the respondent’s name.

4. One space between sentences.

5. Refer to AP style for comma and other punctuation guidelines. In most cases, punctuation should be included inside quotation marks.

6. Reading The Elements of Style is recommended before submitting your next article. A few select tips from Strunk and White:

  • Avoid too many introductory phrases
  • Vary your sentence length
  • Choose active, colorful verbs over adjectives or adverbs when possible
  • Edit for repetitive constructions, words, and phrases
  • Maintain a consistent tense, usually present unless you’re telling a specific story that happened in the past
  • Omit unnecessary words wherever you can. “That” is usually one of them.
  • Remember: Specific > General; Definite > Vague; Concrete > Abstract

7. All other questions should be directed to the AP Stylebook and Gregg’s Reference Manual. If you have a specific question you can’t find a reasonable answer for in either of those, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

8. Just for kicks, here are a few commonly confused words to avoid, as well as correct spelling/capitalization/usage of other common words/terms:

  • “entitled” vs. “titled”: Gen Y is often criticized as being entitled young people. Grandchildren are often entitled to their grandmother’s china. But Daft Punk will never have a song entitled “Get Lucky.” Ingrid Michaelson will never have an album entitled Be OK. Albums, songs, movies, books, and anything else that has a TITLE are, therefore, titled.
  • “who” vs. “that” vs. “which”: “Who” and “that” are used when referring to people. “Who” is your choice for describing individuals or the individuality of a group. “That” is your choice to describe a group or type. “Which” refers to places, objects and animals, but is always used to introduce non-essential clauses. “That” also refers to places, objects and animals, but introduces essential clauses. (Gregg 1062)
  • Google can be used as a verb.
  • Mic is shortened form of microphone.
  • On-screen, smartphone (one word), social networking, hip-hop, 3-D, OK (instead of "okay"), emcee instead of MC (an alternate description for rapper)
  • As of March 2016, Variance does not capitalize "internet" or "web."
  • Dates: "July 4" not "July 4th" (and if it's this year, no need to say 2016).
  • In general, the writer doesn't say "you." There are exceptions with opinion pieces. ("you would never know...")
  • Just a preference, but avoid using someone's name numerous times within a small paragraph.
  • Use last names instead of first names in repeated mentions.
  • "Rihanna": This is one name that is frequently misspelled.
  • Do not use "tells" when quoting your subject. (i.e.: "I was so happy," tells Sam. "It was the most exciting day!") Although it's present tense, use "says" or "reveals" or something or than "tells."
  • As of June 2013, Variance stylizes "JAY Z" in all caps without a hyphen.

Variance Style Sheet:
1. Documents should be submitted in minimum 12 point typeface, left justified.
2. Use single spacing within paragraphs.
3. Leave a line of space between paragraphs.
4. No indent on the first line of each paragraph.
5. Article titles should be bold, left justified.
6. Post the article’s word count in parentheses, excluding the title’s word count, at the end of the document.

(Updated March 2016)

   
           
   

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