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Monday, Aug. 11, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Free Tool for Writing Gooder

By Dave Young
August 11th, 2008

Through a meandering trail of links which I cannot begin to recall, I stumbled across the Chicago Manual of Style Online. Browsing their Q & A section is not only educational, but downright entertaining. Here’s a good example:

Q. Is it correct to use parenthesis to indicate the possibility of a noun as singular or plural? Example: Child(ren).
A. I wouldn’t. It’s not so much an issue of correctness as of ickiness.

I love Jeff Sexton like a brother. But sometimes I feel like a mildly slow, older brother. We have very interesting Skype chats where he uses some awfully big words.  I often find that I’m forced to just play along and occasionally grunt in monosyllabic agreement as he expounds on some exacting detail of this, my only language. Glib, I am. (I actually had to look up the word “glib” when someone in an online forum used it to describe my writing.) In high school, my teacher gave up on ever getting me to successfully conjugate the verb “to be”.

As a zen-like Master of Glib, my natural inclination for drafting this post was to simply write, “Heh, heh. Cool. Check it out.” But, you’d probably think I was trying to Rickroll you.

So, I was thrilled to read some of these priceless questions and answers without actually having to fork over $30 to get access to the real meat and potatoes of the style guide. Behold! You can subscribe to all of the newest questions at the low, low price of FREE!

If you’re not careful, you might learn something that will keep “ickiness” at bay in your writing.

Have a look at the Q & A section. What’s your favorite?

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Comments (8)

  1. The audible version of a very glib style thing is found at

  2. There are also a few nice resources available in the tools section of the Chicago Manual of Style Online.

  3. Good stuff.

    When it comes to writing, I find myself re-reading “On Writing Well” by William Zinnser:

    I’ve given a half dozen copies away to clients and they’ve always thanked me.

  4. If you reference a Rickroll in your article, doesn’t it count almost the same as actually Rickrolling someone? I know what tune I heard in my head as soon as I read it, so I’m tossing in a vote for “yes”. Thanks for the resource link. Or, heh, heh. Cool!

  5. Glib … cranking good post. Met your younger, smarter, better looking brother from another mother … Mr. Sexton. He was teaching a class on writing. He frequently used enormous scholarly sounding words … I’m pretty sure he just makes them up and then stares you down. He said your writing style was “pure glibbish”. Sounded like a compliment to me. t

  6. I’m a long-time subscriber to CMS’s Q&A newsletter. I was so taken by the “ickiness” comment that I shot them an e-mail congratulating them on sustaining such a strong personal style.

    The manual itself is a terrific guide, but encyclopedic. Strongly urge everyone who reads this column to sign up for the monthly Q&As — always worth it.

    (And you’re right — Jeff is amazing.)

  7. I was following a rabbit trail and stumbled upon this site because of your title “…writing gooder” – lovely.

    It’s always nice to have writing tutorials and tips in your back pocket (and bookmarked), especially when they’re free…


  8. Your article caught my eye because of the word “Gooder” in the title. Honestly, I use it everywhere. Although I do it more for fun than anything because I know it’s inaccurate, but I find I’ve used it for fun so much in the past that I accidentally use it in real correspondence nowdays. Oops.

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