Singular Pluralities


Unbeknownst to most word processors, “an archives” is a grammatically correct phrase. “Archives” is one of those words that can be either singular or plural, though it is relatively common to drop the “s” when referring to the singular. “Archives” can refer to a collection of archival materials, the facility in which the materials are stored, or the organization that collects and maintains them.


It follows the same pattern Archives follow. The singular and plural versions can be used interchangeable.

Notable Abbreviations

Using Et Al.

  • Means “and others.”
  • Example: “The documentation Hadid et al. provided is sufficient.

Using Ibid.

  • Abbreviation for ibidem
  • Means “in the same place.”
  • Example: “Ibid., 36.” Where 36 denotes the page number.

Using Etc.

  • Abbreviation for etcetera
  • Means “the rest.”
  • Example: “I love you to pieces, distraction, etc.

Using i.e.

  • Abbreviation for id est
  • Means “that is”
  • Example: “Everyone will receive the standard discount; i.e., 20 percent.”

Using e.g.

  • Abbreviation for exempli gratia
  • Means “for example”
  • Example: “Certain animals, e.g., nutria and otters, spend their lives in water.


Em Dash

Dash as wide as the letter M. Em dashes are punctuation marks used to emphasize or draw attention to parenthetical or amplifying material. They are often used in place of commas, parentheses, colons, and semicolons to increase sentence variety and readability.0 Em dashes are seen as being more interruptive or striking than other punctuation, so they are often used stylistically to draw a reader’s attention to a particular bit of information.


  • Mabel the Cat was delighted with the assortment of pastries the new bakery featured, but Harry the Dog—he felt otherwise.
  • While I was shopping—wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles, actually—I ran into our old neighbor.
  • An etymological dictionary is one of the few books—no, it’s the only book—you’ll ever need.
  • There has recently been an increase—though opposed fiercely by many people—in alternative education practices.
  • He was going to call off the project—or was he?—when the client increased the payment.
  • Traveling—that is, traveling by public transit—can be a relaxing activity if you bring music and reading material along with you.

En Dashes

Dash as wide as the letter N. An en dash is a midsize punctuation mark used to show ranges in numbers, dates, or time frames.0 It is wider than a hyphen but narrower than an em dash.1 The en dash should not be left a space between the adjacent material, and it is read as “to” or “through” depending on the context.4 It can also be used for clarity in forming complex compound adjectives.0 Most keyboards don’t have a key reserved for the en dash, and it usually needs to be added as a special character on most writing programs.3 In text, don’t use an en dash in a range of times. Instead, use “to” instead. In a schedule or listing, use an en dash with no spaces around it: 10:00 AM–2:00 PM. When replacing the words from, to, through, between, or versus, use the en dash.


  • Our part-time employees work 20–30 hours per week.
  • By Monday, you should have read pages 79–113.
  • The years 1861–1865 were a dark time in American history.