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5 posts from September 2010

September 30, 2010

Computer Editing Tip: Em Dashes

Timothy.mcadoo by Timothy McAdoo

APA Style recommends specific uses for hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. Last week we discussed en dashes. Today we focus on em dashes.

First, when would you use an em dash? The Publication Manual (p. 97) notes that em dashes are “used to set off an element added to amplify or to digress from the main clause.” The em dash draws a reader’s attention, partly because of the physical separation that the longer dash creates and partly because these dashes appear less frequently than hyphens and en dashes. The novelty of the em dash makes it perfect for text that you want to stand out.

An em dash might set off a phrase at the end of a sentence—like this one. Or, em dashes may set off a phrase midsentence—a technique that really draws a reader’s attention—as they do in this sentence. The text between the dashes is typically a digression or outright interruption of the main idea of the sentence. When used with care, this technique can really punctuate your point (pun intended)!

But “overuse,” notes the Publication Manual (p. 90), “weakens the flow of material.” One sentence with a phrase set off by em dashes draws the reader’s attention; but frequent interruptions of this type risk making your text seem disjointed or cumbersome.

Don't worry, the Publication Manual (p. 97) notes that you can use two hyphens with no spaces around them “if the em dash is not available on your keyboard.” If you prefer to use a true em dash, most keyboards don’t include a key for it, but a simple shortcut is available!

How to Create an Em Dash in Microsoft Word
Like many people, I use Microsoft Word as my word processor, even on my Mac. (Shortcuts for other software, like OpenOffice, will vary. Please feel free to share your tips for other programs in the comments section.)

Em dashes are easy to create in Microsoft Word:

  • On a PC, hold both the Control and Alt keys and type the minus sign (specifically, the one on the numeric keypad to the right; this shortcut will not work with the one at the top of the keyboard).

    PC-em-dash

  • On a Mac, hold both the Shift and Option keys and type the minus sign (specifically, the one on the top of the keyboard).

    Mac-em-dash

  • Or, you can even copy and paste one of the em dashes from earlier in this post!

For more detail on the use of hyphens, en dashes, em dashes, and even minus signs, see page 97 of the Publication Manual.

Bonus tip for Scrabble players: Both en and em are standard words in the dictionary. These make excellent surprises to have ready in a tight game!

September 23, 2010

Computer Editing Tip: En Dashes

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

People sometimes use the terms hyphen and dash interchangeably, but there’s a subtle distinction. In fact, dashes are different from hyphens, and they have a variety of forms.


The Publication Manual shows specific uses for hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. Today we focus on en dashes.

First, when would you use an en dash?

The Publication Manual shows en dashes for

  • items of equal weight (e.g., test–retest, male–female, the Chicago–London flight),
  • page ranges (e.g., in references, “... Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 718–729.”), and
  • other types of ranges (e.g., 16–30 kHz).

Don't worry, the Publication Manual (p. 97) notes that you can use a single hyphen “if the en dash is not available on your keyboard.” If you prefer to use a true en dash, most keyboards don’t include a key for it, but a simple shortcut is available!

How to Create an En Dash in Microsoft Word
Like many people, I use Microsoft Word as my word processor, even on my Mac. (Shortcuts for other software, like OpenOffice, will vary. Please feel free to share your tips for other programs in the comments section.)

En dashes are easy to create in Microsoft Word:

  • On a PC, hold the Control key and type the minus sign (specifically, the one on the numeric keypad to the right; this shortcut will not work with the one at the top of the keyboard).

    PC keyboard shortcut
  • On a Mac, hold the Option key and type the minus sign (specifically, the one on the top of the keyboard).

    Mac keyboard shortcut
  • Or, you can even copy and paste one of the five en dashes from earlier in this post!


En dashes should not be confused with hyphens, which are used in compound words (e.g., self-esteem) and sometimes with prefixes (meta-analysis). Nor should they be confused with em dashes—the subject of next week’s post!

For more detail on the use of hyphens, en dashes, em dashes, and even minus signs, see page 97 of the Publication Manual.

September 17, 2010

Dear Professor...



Your Students Have Questions We Can't Answer

.rev3by Jeff Hume-Pratuch 

Here at APA Style HQ, we pride ourselves on answering questions. Lots of questions—about a hundred per week by phone and e-mail (not to mention Twitter). Want to know how to cite Michelangelo’s David? We got that. Japanese surnames in your reference list? No problemFacebook, Twitter, Kindle? Done, done, and done. If it’s about APA Style, we can answer it. 

But around this time of year, we start getting questions we can’t answer—because they’re not really about APA Style. Usually they’re from students (or occasionally, teachers) who want to know how to format a table of contents or annotated bibliography or slideshow in APA Style for a class assignment. They want to make sure they’re doing it by the book, but it isn’t in the book.

The APA Publication Manual has a lot to say about clear and concise writing. It is silent about certain topics—bibliographies, Powerpoint slides, dissertation formatting—because its primary purpose is to provide guidelines for writers submitting manuscripts to scholarly journals. Style preferences for undergraduate writing vary by discipline, university, and instructor, so APA has opted not to prescribe in that area.

If you have a question on how APA Style applies to classroom assignments, please contact us. We'll show you what the manual covers and try to help with suggestions for what it doesn't. You can post your question here, or e-mail us (at styleexpert@apastyle.org).

September 09, 2010

How to Cite a Press Release in APA Style

Chelsea blog by Chelsea Lee

When you’re researching a cutting-edge topic, there are few sources of information more of the moment than press releases. Citing them in APA Style is very simple. As for any reference list entry, the four elements you’ll need are the author, the date, the title (with a description of "Press release" in square brackets), and the source (e.g., a URL). Here are some example references for press releases:

American Psychological Association. (2018, January 31). Dishonest individuals perceived as less capable [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/01/dishonest-individuals.aspx

In text: (American Psychological Association, 2018)

 

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. (2010, August 4). Administration officials continue travel across the country holding “Recovery Summer” events, project site visits [Press release]. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/realitycheck/the-press-office/administration-officials-continue-travel-across-country-holding-recovery-summer-eve 

In text: (The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 2010)

  

MIT Sloan School of Management. (2017, April 13). Statistical approach to clinical trials may accelerate cancer drug development process [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/statistical-approach-to-clinical-trials-may-accelerate-cancer-drug-development-process-300439010.html

In text: (MIT Sloan School of Management, 2017)

 

North Carolina State University. (2018, February 6). Venus flytraps don't eat the insects that pollinate them [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180206140655.htm

In text: (North Carolina State University, 2018)

Determining Authorship for Press Releases

Determining authorship is probably the hardest part of writing the press release reference list entry. It helps to know that press releases are typically written by an organization about itself (their typical audience is journalists, who use them as a foundation for their own stories). So when you find press releases on an organization’s own website without a specific author attribution, you can assume the organization to be the author (as in the American Psychological Association example). When a reference includes a larger organization as well as a department or office within that organization, the larger entity comes first in the entry (as in The White House example).

Indexed Press Releases

Press releases also may be indexed on commercial distribution services, such as PR Newswire. However, PR Newswire is not the author of the release; it is the publisher—the author is actually indicated at the bottom of the release (as in the MIT Sloan School of Management example). For these indexed releases, be sure to identify the proper author of the release when writing your reference list entry.

Press Releases on News Sites

For press releases from news sites such as Science Daily, we recommend the same approach as for press releases from indexing sites. Credit the originating institution as the author in the reference, not Science Daily itself (as in the North Carolina State University example). Although Science Daily staff might have edited the content, they did not originate it. Crediting the institution that produced the research (which is listed as the source in the release itself) more accurately characterizes the provenance of the information for your audience. 

Other Details

In the text, you would cite a press release just like any other source, by using the author and year. If you use more than one press release per author per year (say, two from APA in 2018), call them 2018a and 2018b (whichever title comes first alphabetically will be 2018a). Italicize the title of a press release, followed by the description Press release in square brackets (without italics) to aid the reader in understanding the reference type, and finally the retrieval URL is given. Because press releases are published documents (not, for example, wikis, which are updated constantly), a retrieval date is not necessary.

Now you should be ready to cite press releases in your APA Style paper!

  Drawing of a boy holding a newspaper that reads "EXTRA!"

Note: This post was originally published on September 9, 2010. It was updated on February 6, 2018 with fresh examples and additional information about citing Science Daily press releases.The examples also clarify that the full date should be used when citing a press release. 

September 02, 2010

Computer Editing Tip: Paste Special

Chelsea blog by Chelsea Lee

If you have ever cut and pasted information from a webpage into a word-processing document, you know what a mess you can get of font face, size, color, and spacing. It takes one click to paste and then five more steps to get the format to match your default settings—very aggravating. Paste Special is a feature of Microsoft Word (the program I use—please share solutions for other software in the comments) that can make your work easier and more accurate. It allows you to skip the format wrangling and to paste just the text you selected using the same settings as in your document.

What Paste Special Is Good For

Paste Special is helpful when you want to copy and paste from your Internet browser window or PDF into your Word document. You can use Paste Special to help construct your reference list, and in doing so you can reduce transcription errors and save time. For example, you can use it to copy and paste 

  • DOIs,
  • URLs, and
  • text from PDFs or any webpage.

How to Use Paste Special

To use Paste Special, first copy the text you want from your webpage. Second, put your cursor where you want to paste in your Word document. Then select Paste Special from the Edit menu (Word 2003) or from the Paste button on the Home Tab (Word 2007, 2010). A dialog box like the one below will pop up.

Pastespecialdialog


Select “Unformatted text” or “Unformatted Unicode Text” (the latter seems to work better when copying from a PDF), and click OK. Your copied text will paste in the same format as the text that surrounds it in your document.  

Shortcuts

If you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts, the combination for Paste Special is either ALT+V (Word 2003) or CTRL+ALT+V (Word 2007, 2010). Finally, if you really know your way around the computer, this DIY lesson will show you how to make a one-key shortcut for Paste Special (it uses a Word macro to skip the dialog box and paste unformatted text directly).

Stay tuned for more editing tips! And please share your own tips in the comments.

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