Editorial Help Desk

Your Resource for Grammar and
MCPS Style

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Please be advised that the 2016 MCPS Correspondence Manual is under reconstruction, due to major changes in procedures. Stay tuned for updates.


Word of the Month

Quid pro quo (noun) Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines quid pro quo as "something given or received for something else," and "a deal arranging a quid pro quo." The phrase comes from the New Latin, in which it means "something for something."

Tip of the Month

Tips for using a and an before words that start with h or u.
This is a small thing, but it makes your writing so much more credible.
It's all in the details.

Use a before words that start with the enunciated letter h:
    History. A history class about famous churches.
    Hazard. Going without sleep is a hazard to your health.
    Home. She bought a home in the hills.

and with words with the phonic sound yew:
    University. She attended a university in Rome.
    European. France is a European nation.
    URL. You need a URL for your website.

Use an before words that start with silent letter h:
    Hour. It took an hour to drive to the mountains.
    Herb. Use an herb to flavor your cooking.
    Heirloom. The silver brush is an heirloom from my grandmother.

with words that start with a short u:
    Uncle. He is an uncle of mine.
    Underdeveloped. An underdeveloped bee has no wings.
    Urgent. They put out an urgent call for supplies.

and acronyms that start with with a vowel sound:
    M(em)CPS - Montgomery County Public Schools. An MCPS student.
    L(el)GBTQ - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. An LGBTQ study circle.
    N(en)PR - National Public Radio. I work at an NPR station.

Inspired by Woe Is I,  by Patricia T. O'Connor. Copyright 1996.


When in doubt, contact the Editorial Help Desk for help (Donna_M_Marks@mcpsmd.org)
or call 240-740-2971.

Get the new MCPS Acronyms  

Learn to decipher the alphabet soup! Look it up in MCPS Acronyms

Do you know the difference between an ELT and an EMT, between FLS and FLES? Keep this reference on hand and you'll never get lost in jargon.

MCPS Acronyms (PDF)

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Correspondence Manual 2016

Learn to prepare memoranda, letters, and other documents in a consistent format. See the updated examples of memoranda and letters. Refresh your knowledge of e-mail etiquette and more.

Montgomery County Public Schools Interactive Correspondence Manual

Editorial Stylebook

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Present your message in a clear, consistent, and professional manner. Learn some basic style rules to save time and improve your documents.

Montgomery County Public Schools Interactive Editorial Stylebook