Beware: This is an AMA-style blog

AMA manual

I’m an editor of medical and pharmaceutical materials. In my industry, the predominant style manual is American Medical Association Manual of Style with the Chicago Manual of Style as a backup. As a result, my writing (and editing) is influenced by the AMA manual. On my blog, you’ll find the following:

  • Lack of punctuation use with certain words (vs, PhD, etc [unless it ends in a sentence])
  • Not defining a person by their condition (cancer patient vs patient with cancer)
  • Use of en dashes when necessary (non–small cell lung cancer)
  • Use of Arabic numerals for 1-9 instead of spelling it out
  • Not using a comma with numerals in the thousands, eg, 1000, 5000, 9999 (ten thousands and on get a comma)
  • Lack of hyphens when using prefixes, such as anti-, co-, over, pre-, post, or under (unless it makes words ambigious or awkward, eg, re-coveranti-abortion

Of course, this is a blog, informal writing, therefore, I’ll deviate from some of those rules at times (healthcare as one word; period after Dr.; a sentence beginning with an Arabic numeral), but for the most part, grammar and punctuation use that seem foreign may actually be intentional.

But all style manuals agree: The word “data” is plural, eg, data are, data were…

Word Wednesday: Project Semicolon

Something a little different today. Translating grammar into real life.

Project Semicolon is an organization that was founded by Amy Bleuel to raise awareness about the prevention of suicide. Per the foundation:

Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide.

Being someone who has dealt with suicidal thoughts and tendencies since I was 12, Project Semicolon is an organization that is near and dear to my heart.

I searched high and low for other black people who had a semicolon tattooed to their wrist but all I found (TBH) were images of no one but white people. So the picture above is of my wrist. It’s in black and white, but it reflects my skin undertone and quite frankly…me.

But why the semicolon? Why not some other form of punctuation?

Project Semicolon’s tagline is “Your story isn’t over yet.” As I have heard it explained, the reason the semicolon was chosen is because, in grammar, it connects two complete thoughts. It’s sort of a blip in the midst of a sentence. It’s not a period that indicates finality (the end of a sentence), and it’s not a comma (just a pause). The thought that comes before a semicolon can stand on its own. It could be the end. But it’s not. There’s more to the story; there’s more to come.

The semicolon (through Project Semicolon) reminds people around the world that whatever they’re going through is merely an interruption. It could be the end of their life story but it doesn’t have to be. I identify with this thought. So many times I have wanted to end my life. But that semicolon reminds me that all of these tough moments are “blips.” My story isn’t over yet. I don’t have to end it.