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Friday Quickies

We're regularly asked to double check phrases, spellings, and grammar rules. Here are a couple of the questions we’ve received recently.

Q. When writing a percent, do we use numerals instead of spelling out the number and use the word "percent" instead of the symbol %. Is that the format we're supposed to use?

A. If following CMoS, you need to use the numeral and not the word. However, if the number is the first word in the sentence, then the word is needed.

E.g. I was 90 percent sure. Whether to the word percent or the symbol is the trickier decision in novels. It's a common and accepted practice to use the word percent. Though, like many decisions, consistency is the key.

Q. I forget. What is the rule when someone is addressed as "boss" within dialogue?

Here's the example:

“Watch your mouth, James,” I growl. He raises his hands in apology. “Sorry, Boss.”

Because it's being used in place of his name, should it remain capitalized (like for "Hey, Mom"), or should I switch it to lowercase like we do in cases of "honey" or "sweetie"?

A. The trick here is to always ask yourself does the character use it as a proper noun? Would they pick up the phone and say, "Can I speak to Boss?" or would they say, "Can I speak to the boss?" If it's the latter, the word “boss” is not used as a proper noun, so it does not require a capital letter.

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