Questions for Editors

words_headerHere’s a big question to consider to start your week: As professional communicators, is it our duty to follow established grammar and style rules OR do we better serve our audiences by writing the way they talk?

Illustration 1: Percent

AP Style still calls for percent to be written out in most cases. But, it is easier to read and scan the symbol %.

percent One word. It takes a singular verb when standing alone or when a singular word follows an of construction: The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade. He said 50 percent of the membership was there.
It takes a plural verb when a plural word follows an of construction: He said 50 percent of the members were there.
Use figures for percent and percentages: 1 percent, 2.5 percent (use decimals, not fractions), 10 percent, 4 percentage points.
For a range, 12 to 15 percent, or between 12 and 15 percent.
For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6 percent.

Illustration 2: Singular pronoun

When the gender of a singular noun is not known, the proper pronoun is “he or she,” but you see “they” used everywhere.

Michigan Radio took a great look at the issue, “They’re out there – and they’re taking over.”

I am constantly editing for both of these issues in my work. What are other consistent variances from the rules that you see? What do you think – should we follow the rules or popular conventions?

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