writing for The Kilo-What (or almost anything else)
by Glenn Miller/AA5PK
"Call sign" is written as two words, not one. You won't find "callsign" in any dictionary. Seeing it written incorrectly nearly everywhere doesn't make it correct.
The plural of antenna is antennas, never antennae (unless you're talking about insects!).
There is no such thing as a "base station" in the amateur radio service. "Base station" implies there are outstations which do not exist in the amateur service--only fixed, portable, and mobile stations. And amateur radio equipment advertisers aren't helping by their increasing misuse of the term.
Be consistent when using units of measure. Don't write "My favorite bands are 2 meters and 440 MHz." That's sort of like "Do you walk to work or carry your lunch?"
If you feel you must use the word "ham" (as in ham radio), don't capitalize it (i.e., HAM). It's not an acronym (like OSCAR or MARS) or the name of a project or program (like SKYWARN™). Disregard the ignorance spawned by a spate of urban legends that have recently popped up/been transferred from the 11 meter crowd (e.g., having to do with the origin of 73 or the first initials of some undocumented members of the Harvard Radio Club named Hyman, Almy, and Murry--no record of those names exist in the Harvard archives. Check what the Harvard Wireless Club has to say about this particular Urban Legend.) Click here for the origin of the word "ham" that's been accepted for well over half a century.
Abbreviations like CW, SSB, RTTY, AMTOR, G-TOR are always capitalized whereas PacTOR is a bastardization of packet and the acronym AMTOR.
Use correct abbreviations:
kilohertz - kHz (kilo is always in lower case e.g., kW, kb, km)
megahertz - MHz (meg or mega is always in upper case e.g., MW, Mb)
And, please! It's "73" and NOT "73s" or (worse yet) "73's." Let's leave that nonsense on 11 meters where it originated.
The abbreviation i.e. (from Latin id est meaning that is) is followed by a definition clarifying what preceded it. Example: "Forests help provide us with newspapers, i.e., paper is made of wood from trees." The abbreviation e.g. (from Latin exempli gratia, meaning for example) introduces an illustration of whatever has just been said. Example: "One thing that will put on weight is a fatty food, e.g., butter."
Watch parallel construction in sentences. Don't write something like "I watched the children playing, singing, and as they chased each other."
Spell out all numbers starting a sentence and, except when they are units of measure, all numbers smaller than 10 (unless there are numbers larger than 10 in the same sentence in which case you would write all numbers as figures).
1. Twenty-three people participated, including two visitors.
2. Twenty-three people participated, including 2 visitors and 12 passersby.
3. Twenty-three people participated, including two visitors and five passersby.
Use hyphens correctly: fifty-five, 50-year-old man, 30-foot tower (but 30 feet of tower).
Don't be "comma happy." Use commas to separate items in a list and to separate independent clauses from the main sentence.
With few exceptions, punctuation goes inside any quotes.
"It's" is the contraction for "it is" whereas "its" is the possessive for "it." Example: "It's difficult to see its utility." You don't write "her's," "hi's," or "their's," do you?
"Your" is possessive for "you" whereas "you're" is the contraction for "you are." Example: "You're looking for your hat." Gawd, we see way too much of this ignorance on the Internet. Just proves Johnny can't write, let alone read.
The word "that" can be eliminated from 90 percent
of writing with absolutely no change in meaning.
Of course, there are exceptions:
1) When a time element intervenes between the verb and the clause. Example: "The coach said today his team was in A-1 condition." A that here would clear up any confusion about whether the today refers to the said or the team's condition. "The coach said that today his team was in A-1 condition" or "The coach said today that his team was in A-1 condition."
2) The second case is when the verb of the clause is so long delayed it's not quickly clear that a clause is present at all. Example: "The prosecutor disclosed a document pertaining to the brokerage company swindle was a forgery." A that after disclosed would make the sentence much easier to read.
3) A third guide involves a sentence in which a second that clears up confusion about who said or did what. Example: "The coach said that the quarterback was not playing his best and the team's morale suffered." If the coach said the morale suffered, a that is definitely needed after the and so the quarterback doesn't take the heat for the team's morale.
Unless you're being paid by the word or trying to fill blank space, don't pad out sentences. Don't write things like "at the present time," "at this point in time," or "at this time" when you could just as easily write "now" or "green in color" when simply "green" will suffice.
Remember: Loose (pronounced loos) means not tight, whereas lose (looz) means to misplace. Just remember "Born to Lose" and you'll never confuse them.
"Myself" is a reflexive pronoun and should never be used in a sentence if it's not preceded by the word "I." For example: "I saw it myself," but never "Call Tom or myself for more information." Don't be afraid to use "me" where it belongs.
Generally, if you write as you speak (assuming you speak English correctly), you'll be able to convey your ideas easier than if you try to use words or sentence constructions you're not comfortable with. Don't be afraid to use contractions in your writing, but don't go overboard with them either...
And, lastly, spell check, spell check, spell check!
Here's an excellent aid for writing also
Here's a resource for better blogging
Assembled by Glenn "Conan the Grammarian" Miller/AA5PK
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