• Call Me by My Name

      Yes, of course writers and speakers should call people what they want to be called—all the way from honorifics (if you’re using them) to pronouns: Ms., Miss, Mx., Caitlyn Jenner, Chaz Bono, he, the...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • Thinking Ahead

      We’re told that people who hope to have fulfilling careers now and in the coming decades must be adaptable. That’s because technologies such as the internet and artificial intelligence are changing...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • Staving Off Sneak Attacks

      Quick quiz: In the biblical story, what was Jonah swallowed by? How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark? Did you answer “whale” to the first question and “two” to the...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • Just the Facts, Folks

      “Avoid Exaggeration…. When you’re writing for readers who don’t know you well, it’s important to show that you’re reliable and not overly dramatic. Readers have a sense of ...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • Which Dictionary Should Your Students Use?

      Your students should use Merriam-Webster.com, for sure. It’s the best dictionary for everyday purposes, and I’ll explain why after I give you a bit of background and do some complaining.   On...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • What They Don’t Know Can Hurt Them

      For 30-some years I’ve worked as a line editor of newspaper, magazine, and journal articles and professional reports. Much of what I edit is also reviewed by a professional fact checker, or else I check ...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • What Do You Want to Be Called?

      The principle is: Refer to people the way they want to be referred to. Admittedly, special situations come up that test the principle—as when Prince changed his stage name to a symbol that none of us h...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • "Teach your Students to Trust their Readers"

      A friend of mine, Jim, is a successful SAT/ACT tutor who’s been in the business for some time. In a typical year, he tells me, several of his tutees get an 800 on the SAT’s reading and writing sect...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • Must We Be Correct and Appropriate?

    Do you remember being 19? I do. The last thing I wanted to be was correct—or (in most circumstances) appropriate. I wanted to be … independent! Creative! Envied! I did want to write well, and I understood...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff
  • What’s a Comma Worth?

    Even able writers who try their best to “be clear” may fail miserably. A couple of months ago, I was reminded of how subtle clarity can be—and how greatly it can matter.   In March the U.S. Cou...
    Barbara Wallraff
    last modified by Barbara Wallraff