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24

FRIDAY

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I’d only begun Chapter 1 of Bill Walsh’s new editing guide, The Elephants of Style, when I found an obvious mistake. It’s in this P.G. Wodehouse quote on the writing process: “I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit.” Well, I don’t know what Wodehouse might have been smoking, but when I write, I sit at a keyboard and curse a lot. As a former copy editor, though, I can happily report that Walsh got a later assertion just right: “If you take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad.” Walsh, copy chief of the Washington Post’s national desk and creator of word-nerd paradise TheSlot.com, understands that trying to wrap one’s head around “that” vs. “which” can turn a gentle editor homicidal, so he wisely tricks out his lessons with shameless puns and section titles such as “Madam Chairman and That Friggin’ Masseuse.” Thank Walsh for making grammar…well, not quite as boring when he speaks at 1 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Tricia Olszewski)