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Avoid using last to signify the immediate past, as in "Last June, we went berry picking." If a past-tense verb is used—"This June, we picked berries" ... "This summer, we went fishing"—the meaning is clear.

Life cycle

Two words, no hyphen.

Plasmodium's complicated life cycle ...

Life- (prefix)

Wherever possible, we try not to use the hyphen.

The following do not take a hyphen:


The following take a hyphen:



Do not use "like" when you mean "such as."

Nonnative birds such as sparrows, starlings and mute swans ...

Migratory birds like geese and ducks ...

 Lists, vertical

Bulleted versus numbered lists
Introduce items in a vertical list with numbers only if the order of the items matters. Otherwise, use bullets or another typographical symbol.

To make a cake

  1. turn on oven
  2. assemble ingredients
  3. bake

Please order the following supplies:

  • notebooks
  • No. 2 pencils
  • legal pads

Punctuation in lists
mas, periods, or other punctuation marks are not necessary at the end of bulleted items.

Parallelism of list items
Make lists parallel by using the same sentence construction for each item.

Lists in running text

In running text, use parentheses to enclose numbers marking a division.

You will qualify for admission if you are (1) over age 18, (2) meet our health requirements, and (3) have completed the training.

Lyme disease

It is spelled Lyme disease, as in Lyme, Connecticut. It is never, ever spelled Lyme's disease.

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