Finding the right style

Because I’m always trying to improve my writing skills, I read any grammar resource I can get my hands on. My latest favorite grammar quandary was brought to us by Quick & Dirty Tips from Grammar Girl.

When you are making the phrase do and don’t plural, do you use an apostrophe? And if so, do you use it for both words?
Good question. Without going into a long discourse on the rules, let’s just say that according to Grammar Girl, it all comes down to which style guide you use.

This brings me to the style guide issue, a contentious one in some writing circles. One of the first lessons we learn as writers and editors is that there are many style guides, and while there are standard grammar rules, there are many more that are dictated by which guide you or your profession/industry uses. And all these differences can lead to some very heated grammar debates.

We often find associations and their chapters struggling with similar “style” issues, often brought on by generational differences. As Peggy talks about in her post End of Membership As We Know It – or not, many baby boomers are stuck in the old chapter models…models that often disenchant younger members and stifle the association. Sure there are certain standards that any association needs to follow, but does it really need to adhere to the old way of doing things? Is there really only one association “style”?

Back to our grammar lesson…do you or don’t you use the apostrophe when making this particular phrase plural. Grammar Girl writes…
Unless your editor wishes otherwise, if you write books, spell it dos and don’ts; and if you write for newspapers, magazines, or the Web, spell it do’s and don’ts. If you’re writing for yourself, spell it any way you want. (101 Troublesome Words You’ll Master in No Time by Mignon Fogarty)

Sometimes it’s just that simple.