Just Your Type

Type, design, writing and other funny stuff

It’s just a hyphen. Right?

Adjectives describe something in more detail. A green car. A first job.

A compound adjective isn’t any fancier, it just takes two words to do one job. A blue-green car. Some first-hand experience. Really, we intend it to be a single descriptor—one word, really—so we use the hyphen to make it so. Without the hyphen, the reader can me misled: is a wild animal trainer someone who trains wild animals? Or an animal trainer who goes crazy at parties? Calling her a wild-animal trainer tames the sentence. It’s really a single description: what kind of trainer? The wild-animal kind.

So if you see a man eating chicken, ask for a bite. If it’s a man-eating chicken, you’re the one who’s going to get bit.

Previously on Just Your Type:

Font vs typeface: you’re all right

National Public Radio shared an interesting story about the redesigning of Helvetica. By far, Helvetica is used more often than any other face, so why redesign? Technical reasons, mostly to do with changing times. It's a great story, but not for here. Whew, what a...

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Is it ketchup or catsup?

Words matter. You want to get it right. So when it comes to ketchup versus catsup, which should you be using? Ketchup. See? See? I can get to the point. But I'm still going to ramble on about all the fun background bits. Like this, from our Department of Repetitive...

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Forward vs foreword

About one in twenty manuscripts we receive starts with a "Forward." That makes sense because at that point it's the only direction you can go in the book, unless you want to read the title page again. The problem is that it is wrong. Where are we going with this?...

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Underlines for emphasis? How about never.

When you want to say something big — no, big — no, REALLY BIG, BIGGER THAN BIG, THE BIGGEST OF THE BIGS — should you choose italics, ALL CAPS, or underlined text? First, consider none of those. Try letting the text speak for itself, rather than using formatting to...

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Should punctuation be included in italics?

  This problem came up in a book I was working on recently. The author italicized a lot of words, but didn't include any of his punctuation in the italicization. Put another way, his words were italic, but his punctuation was Roman. It left a lot of visual...

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Who's this guy?

"Mick" is Michael Campbell, a book designer, graphic artist and writer. His humor column, The Dumpster, closes every issue of Food & Spirits Magazine. Author of Are You Going To Eat That?, and the new 2017 book of seventy hilarious all new essays, Of Mice and Me.
A singer songwriter too. New CD My Turn Now is available now!