You have a writing assignment, and you’re typing away in a flurry of inspiration. (Or is it desperation because your deadline looms?) Suddenly, a question pops into your head that makes you come to a dead stop: Should you use “affect” or effect”? Or maybe this is the question: Does the period go inside the quotes or outside? How about: Do you put commas in a date, and if so, where? Actually, it could be any of a hundred nagging little questions whose answers lie buried in the high school English class detritus left in your unconsciousness.
Instead of relying on dusty memory or calling Mrs. Schlepke, your freshman English teacher, out of retirement, it’s much easier to make sure you have a few handy-dandy reference books within reach. When writing professionally, whether for your job or for your career, it’s imperative that you present as close to a perfect communication piece as possible. Grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes look sloppy and unprofessional. And you can’t rely on spell checker alone. If you’ve used “effect” when the correct word is “affect,” your mistake will go unnoticed by spell checker. Continue reading Mrs. Schlepke’s substitute: Helpful reference books