Posted by: Jack Henry | January 26, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Sunken Ships and Poop Decks

Fairly recently in San Diego, we’ve had a major climate change: rain. Along with that, the ocean has been particularly active, with giant waves and king tides. I think I shared this photo with you before: it was my snapshot of the SS Monte Carlo, a ship that sank off the coast of Coronado Island, in 1937. I was so excited when the low tides last year gave me this fantastic glimpse of the sunken ship, up close and personal:

Well, my friends, that was child’s play. This year’s rocking and rolling waves (and the local news chopper) gave us a picture of the ship you might find more interesting:

What does this have to do with English, though? Well, my mom sent me the photo above because we walk that beach almost every weekend, but we didn’t do it when “the boat was out,” because there was a water contamination notice. A lot of different “pollutants” were headed our way from the Tijuana River. Mom and I joked about the sunken ship and “poop decks” (because we’re very mature women), and of course, we started wondering where the heck that term came from.

As promised, Mom, here’s what I found. According to Wikipedia:

The name originates from the French word for stern, la poupe, from Latin puppis. Thus, the poop deck is technically a stern deck, which in sailing ships was usually elevated as the roof of the stern or “after” cabin, also known as the “poop cabin.”

On sailing ships, the helmsman would steer the craft from the quarterdeck, immediately in front of the poop deck. At the stern, the poop deck provides an elevated position ideal for observation. On modern, motorized warships, the ship functions which were once carried out on the poop deck have been moved to the bridge, usually located in a superstructure.

There you have it! Now a few interesting facts about the SS Monte Carlo, pictured floating (below):

The ship

  • Was launched in 1921 as the oil tanker SS Old North State, later named McKittrick.
  • Is made of concrete.
  • Became a gambling and prostitution ship (in international waters) in the 1930s.
  • Was originally located off of Long Beach.
  • Was later moved to Coronado in 1936.
  • Lost its anchor hold and drifted towards shore on New Year’s Day, 1937.
  • Became illegal when it left international waters and touched the shore, so nobody claimed the ship.
  • Is speculated to still contain up to $150,000 worth of silver dollar coins in the wreckage.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s history and English lesson!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: Jack Henry | January 24, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Financial Wellness and a Mermaid’s Purse

Good morning, folks!

January is Financial Wellness Month, and I’ve been trying to think of some ways to honor that here with Editor’s Corner. I’ve written articles on percentages, dollars, money, and other topics, but that doesn’t seem like enough.

Today I have an offering from the Purpose Office itself, which is perfect for readers and language lovers, while also backing Jack Henry’s support of our financial wellness: a new book club! For more information and to fill out the form, click here. These are the basics about the book:

The Seven Phases of Financial Wellness: A Simplified Personal Finance System That Will Transform How You View Money, by Joe Brown. The book is available for purchase here, it is currently less than six dollars on Kindle®, and it is under 80 pages. Here is an excerpt from the book cover:

“This book summarizes the essential elements of personal finance and teaches you how to begin the journey to experience real financial wellness. The key actions include earning money, giving money, tracking money, protecting money, saving money, spending money, and enjoying money.”

How could you go wrong? Read a bit, learn a bit, and hopefully reach a state of financial wellness—maybe you’ll even reach nirvana? Join us and become part of the club. In the meantime, there are some additional resources on jhDaily.

And now, for the term of the day: mermaid’s purse.

A mermaid’s purse is a capsule made of collagen protein strands. I thought it must contain sand dollars, but instead it holds the eggs of some sharks, skates, and chimaeras. It usually holds just one embryo per purse, but sometimes as many as seven. They are generally rectangular with projections (horns) at each corner. Here is a photo of a mermaid’s purse:

And some Northern California sand dollars, which I’d rather have than shark eggs:

Enjoy your day!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: Jack Henry | January 19, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Fits or Bits?

Dear Editrix,

I’ve always used and heard the phrase “bits and spurts,” but the other day someone used the phrase “fits and starts” in the same manner I would have used “bits and spurts.” It made me wonder if I had been using the wrong words this entire time, like singing the wrong words to a song for decades unknowingly!

Sincerely,

Singing in Bits and Spurts

Dear Reader,

This is an interesting question, and I couldn’t find an exact answer for you. I have heard “fits and starts,” which seems to be the more common way to describe something as intermittent or sporadic, or possibly just a little bit at a time. That does sound very much like your use of “bits and spurts.”

It looks like “fits and starts” is more common in England and the U.S., so I thought maybe it was a more regional thing and that wherever you are from, “bits and spurts” is more common, yet I couldn’t find anything confirming that either.

I found various articles using “bits and spurts” to describe intermittent growth in children, the coming of spring in Kansas, sports performance, and growing pains about the hip and pelvis.

“Fits and starts” was used similarly to talk about the negative aspect of studying sporadically vs. studying consistently; the progression of military technology; and stopping and starting a host of other activities.

I’m sorry I couldn’t give you more of a definitive answer, but if you use your version of the phrase, just note that “fits and starts” might be understandable to more people.

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: Jack Henry | January 17, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Dollar Signs

I recently sent out an Editor’s Corner about percentages, which raised some additional questions about other symbols we use with numbers. Getting a precise answer out of the Chicago Manual of Style was like herding cats, only more difficult. I found the rules about using symbols with monetary amounts much simpler on this site about business writing.

Amounts of Money Less than $1

Other than isolated references, followers of Chicago style should use the cent sign for amounts of money less than $1. However, if the reference appears near another amount of money $1 or greater, the cents should be formatted with the dollar sign and numerals.

§ The dairy charges a deposit per bottle.

§ The price of widgets has increased from $0.75 to $2.12 over the course of six months.

Although I personally follow Chicago style, I prefer the AP guide’s recommendation for spelling out cent because the cent sign is not readily available on standard keyboards.

Check out “Three Ways to Insert Currency Symbols in Microsoft Word” to learn how to insert the cent sign in your Word documents.

Amounts of Money Greater than 99¢ but Less than $1 Million

Use the dollar sign and numerals for specific amounts of money greater than 99¢ but less than $1 million.

§ This desk sells for $249 in New York and $239 in Chicago.

§ Our storage fee is $895.99 per month.

$1 Million and Greater

Simplify large numbers by spelling out million, billion, and trillion. You can include up to two numerals after a decimal point, if necessary.

§ The equipment upgrades will cost $1.25 million over three years.

§ We bought this startup for $990,000; it is now valued at $2 billion.

Final Thoughts

Although not an official style recommendation from any of our primary style guides, you may also want to consider streamlining large amounts of money by using approximate whole numbers if your readers don’t need to know the exact figure.

§ The neighboring property is listed for more than $6 million. (Instead of “The neighboring property is listed for $6,120,595.”)

§ Sales soared above $1 billion last year. (Instead of “Sales soared to $1,000,105,000 last year.”)

Have a lovely (short) week!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: Jack Henry | January 12, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Friday the 13th

Good morning! Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, which is considered by some to be an unlucky day. If you’re like me, you may be wondering why.

According to an article on the History™ website, aptly called Friday the 13th, while the number 13 is considered unlucky, the number 12 is associated with completeness: “…there are 12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 gods of Olympus, and 12 tribes of Israel, just to name a few examples…its successor 13 has a long history as a sign of bad luck.” The article points out that this superstition has been around for centuries and has its roots in the Western world and in Christianity. First mentioned is the fact that there were 13 guests at Christ’s Last Supper. In addition, the fall of the Knights Templar (a monastic military order devoted to protecting pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land following the Christian capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade) began on Friday, October 13, 1307.

Along with 13 being the unluckiest number, some believe that Friday may be the unluckiest day of the week, and this belief is also rooted in Christianity, as Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and Friday is believed to be the day that Adam and Eve ate the apple from the Tree of Knowledge.

The article points out that there have been attempts to remove the stigma of Friday the 13th. A New Yorker named Captain William Fowler (1827–1897) founded an exclusive society called the Thirteen Club whose members dined on the 13th day of the month in room 13 of the Knickerbocker Cottage and partook of a 13-course meal. Members of this club walked under a ladder beneath a banner reading “Morituri te Salutamus,” which is Latin for “Those of us who are about to die salute you.” Four former presidents (Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and Theodore Roosevelt) were all members at one time or another. And I might point out that they’re all dead now, so…

Anyway, since tomorrow is the 13th, I thought you might be interested in 13 synonyms for unlucky. These come to you from Thesaurus.com. You can watch the slide show by clicking the link (which also provides examples and additional information), or you can read on at your own risk.

  1. hapless: unlucky; luckless; unfortunate
  2. inauspicious: boding ill; ill-omened; unfavorable
  3. star-crossed: ill-fated; related to the idea that one’s fate is foretold by the position of the stars
  4. sinister: threatening or portending evil
  5. ominous: portending evil or harm; foreboding; threatening; comes from the word omen meaning a sign or symbol of the future
  6. dire: causing or involving great fear or suffering; dreadful; terrible
  7. donsie: (Scottish) unfortunate; ill-fated; unlucky
  8. withershins: (Scottish) in a direction contrary to the natural one, especially contrary to the apparent course of the sun; counterclockwise in the sense of being unlucky or causing disaster
  9. unsonsy (Scottish) bringing or boding ill luck
  10. evil eye: expression meaning “a look thought capable of inflicting injury or bad luck on the person at whom it is directed”
  11. schlimazel: someone who has experienced more than their fair share of bad luck
  12. infelicity: misfortune; bad luck
  13. fey: (British English) doomed, fated to die

I have a premonition that we are all going to have a lucky day tomorrow followed by a wonderful weekend. It will be the first day of my three-week vacation—it’s a very lucky day for me!

Donna Bradley Burcher |Technical Editor, Advisory | jack henry™

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123

Pronouns she/her/hers

Symitar Documentation Services

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
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Posted by: Jack Henry | January 10, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Plead, Pleaded, and Plead

Hey girlfriend,

This always stumps me when I read it in an article about someone pleading during a trial. The words “pled” and “pleaded.” Seems as if the writers always use the word “pleaded” when I think it sounds better to say “pled.” Can you help an old guy out?

Hello, my friend from the beautiful Pacific Northwest!

I’ve always found this set of words troublesome myself. Pleaded seems so clunky. We have lead/led, feed/fed, read/read, need/Ned…oh never-mind, I’m not getting anywhere with that argument. Let’s just say plead, pled, and pleaded are one of those crazy exceptions that make English the interesting language that it is.

First, a few details. From my buddies at Merriam-Webster, here’s their definition. Note that they offer both pleaded and pled as the correct past tense.

plead

plead·ed or pled ˈpled

; pleaded or pled; plead·ing; pleads

intransitive verb

1: to make a plea or conduct pleadings in a cause or proceeding in a court : present an answer or pleading in defense or prosecution of an action

2: to argue for or against a claim : urge reasons for or against a thing : entreat or appeal earnestly : beg, implore

Second, the form of the word that you use depends on where it is used. Media likes to use pleaded rather than pled, so that’s what you’ll hear on the daily news or read in your favorite crime blotter. I was surprised to read in Grammarly.com that “in the legal community, which seems to be very invested in the debate [KC – Of
pleaded vs. pled] due to the frequent use of the verb plead in legal terminology, both terms are used more or less equally.”

Third, those who follow the Associated Press Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style also prefer the longer form, so if you’re reading material from writers who use those guides, they’ll be saying that someone pleaded innocent.

Last, but not least, the use of pleaded over pled depends on where a person lives. Those in England, Australia, Wales, and Ireland like pleaded. Despite the prominence of pleaded in the American media and style guides, North Americans and the Scottish like pled.

Here are some additional words of wisdom from the folks at Grammarly.com.

…the bottom line is that pleaded is the commonly recognized past tense of plead, and pled is the form that can sometimes be used instead of it, especially within the North American and Scottish legal systems. If you have to follow a certain style guide, you work in the media, or you simply want to lay the issue to rest, you’d be better served by using pleaded.

Since I don’t mind arguing, personally I’m going with pled. I can already see the argument with my dad coming to fruition.

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: Jack Henry | January 5, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Cat idioms, part two

Meow, meow, meow, meow! Today is day two of kitty-cat idioms. As I mentioned with the first portion, the full list is here if you’d like to see even more.

High as the Hair on a Cat’s Back

To describe something very expensive or valuable.

Keep No More Cats Than Will Catch Mice

A way of saying that you should be efficient; be minimalistic. Use the bare minimum. An old expression that cautioned against maintaining any more people or things than can accomplish a purpose.

Let the Cat out of the Bag

To suggest that you have said something you didn’t intend to say. That a person has inadvertently revealed a secret.

Like Herding Cats

Refers to someone trying to manage multiple tasks at the same time. Often used to describe a person attempting to manage a large team of individuals, all of which are uncooperative.

Look What the Cat Dragged in

A phrase often used in a slightly derogatory or playful way. Can state that a person is a little shabby or not properly dressed for the occasion.

Morals of an Alley Cat

References the actions of a stray cat that hangs around streets and alleyways of a town or city and refers to a person of loose morals.

The Cat’s Pajamas

Refers to a person who is the best at what they do. An excellent person or thing.

To Bell a Cat

This expression refers to an impossible task. Believed to originate from the fable of a mouse who has the idea of hanging a bell around a cat’s neck to warn them of its approach.

To Have Kittens

To be very upset or worried about something. A dramatic way of describing how frightened or upset you have been.

To Put a Cat Among the Pigeons

A way of saying that someone has created an upset or a disturbance.

To Rain Cats and Dogs

This idiom refers to the fact that it is raining very heavily. A saying whose origins have been lost over the ages.

To Turn the Cat in the Pan

To reverse to an outcome or situation. Also used to refer to someone who has turned traitor.

See Which Way the Cat Jumps

A way of saying that you should wait until you see how things develop or progress before committing yourself to a course of action.

Walk Like a Cat on Eggs

Taking great care and consideration in an activity.

Enjoy your day!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: Jack Henry | January 3, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Kitty Idioms

Good morning, friends. I hope this finds you happy and healthy.

Over the last month, I’ve provided you with idioms about horses and dogs. Now it’s time to give some love to the feline phrases you might come across. I’m dividing the list into two “installments” to make them more bite-sized, and I’ve removed some of the more common ones just to save space. If you’re interested in the complete list, you can find it at Owlcation.

A Cat Burglar

Refers to a burglar who uses stealth and agility to break into buildings.

A Cat in Gloves Catches no Mice

If you are too polite or careful, you might not achieve what you want.

All Cats are Grey at Night

A way of saying that in the dark, physical attributes are unimportant.

As Conceited as a Barber’s Cat

Someone who has a high opinion of themselves or their importance.

Busier Than a One-eyed Cat Watching Two Mouse Holes

That a person is extremely busy – almost frantic.

Busier Than a Three-legged Cat in a Sandbox

Hectic to the point of being frantic.

[KC – When we discussed Southern expressions, I was told that the phrase is: “Busier than a
one-legged cat in a sandbox.” I’d say that’s pretty busy!]

Cool Cat

A phrase used to describe a fashionable person. Also, when talking about someone who is very calm or slow to anger.

Cat’s Cradle

This expression refers to something overly complicated. Likened to the children’s game "cat’s cradle." A game played with a string wound around the fingers to create intricate patterns.

Cat’s Meow

Something outstanding or excellent.

Curiosity Killed The Cat

You should take care to look into something too profoundly. You might find something that disturbs you. You should not be curious; you may find something you don’t want to know. [KC – Also the name of a fun British band in the late 1980s.]

Enough to Make a Cat Laugh

Something that is very, very funny.

Fight Like Cats and Dogs

To be continually fighting or arguing with someone.

Cat Got Your Tongue?

A phrase used when referring to someone who has very little to say for themselves. The origins of this idiomatic saying remain unclear. It possibly originated from stories of witches whose cats would steal the tongue of their victims to prevent them from telling others.

Hellcat

A fiery, ill-tempered person.

Happy New Year!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

Posted by: Jack Henry | December 29, 2022

Editor’s Corner: Words of the Year

Here we are at the end of 2022—it’s a time when many of us reflect on everything the past year has brought us. I hope it’s brought you many good things and that you have many good things to look forward to in 2023.

And while we are ruminating about events of the past year, folks at dictionaries are ruminating about the words that had a significant effect on our society in 2022. Each year, various dictionaries choose their “word of the year.” I love this tradition! The words are determined by the number of times people searched for the word online. The most searched words are the winners, and they are a window into the year we just lived.

Following is a list of some of the 2022 winners from various English dictionaries. (Thanks, Jane G, for the initial list!) I have provided information about the meanings of all the words.

Dictionary Word Information
Merriam-Webster

(American dictionary)

gaslighting The act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage
Oxford Dictionary

(British dictionary)

goblin mode A type of behavior that is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations

(First seen on Twitter℠ in 2009, “goblin mode” gained popularity in 2022 as people around the world emerged uncertainly from pandemic lockdowns.)

Cambridge Dictionary

(British dictionary)

homer A point scored in baseball when you hit the ball, usually out of the playing field, and are able to run around all the bases at one time to the starting base

(A significant surge of searches occurred on May 5, when homer was the winning word on the popular online word game, Wordle.)

Collins Dictionary

(British dictionary)

permacrisis Describes the feeling of living through a period of war, inflation, and political instability
Macquarie Dictionary

(Australian dictionary)

teal An independent political candidate who holds generally ideologically moderate views, but who supports strong action regarding environmental and climate action policies, and the prioritizing of integrity in politics
Dictionary.com woman An adult female person

(The biggest search spike for this word started during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson after she was asked by Senator Marsha Blackburn to provide a definition of the word woman. According to Dictionary.com, “The prominence of the question and the attention it received demonstrate how issues of transgender identity and rights are now frequently at the forefront of our national discourse. More than ever, we are all faced with questions about who gets to identify as a woman (or a man, or neither). The policies that these questions inform transcend the importance of any dictionary definition—they directly impact people’s lives.”)

The following table lists some of the runner-up words for 2022:

Dictionary Word Information
Merriam-Webster · oligarch

· codify

· LGBTQIA

· sentient

· Queen Consort

· One of a class of individuals who through private acquisition of state assets amassed great wealth that is stored especially in foreign accounts and properties and who typically maintains close links to the highest government circles

· A process by which Congress can make laws; the word literally means “to make a code” with code here essentially a synonym of “law”

· Stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one’s sexual or gender identity), intersex, and asexual/aromantic/agender”

· Responsive to or conscious of sense impressions; used in reference to a Google™ AI chatbot

· The wife of a reigning king

Oxford Dictionary · metaverse · Describes a (hypothetical) virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way, sometimes posited as a potential extension of or replacement for the internet, World Wide Web, social media, etc.
Collins Dictionary · partygate

· splooting

· warm bank

· Carolean

· lawfare

· quiet quitting

· sportwashing

· vibe shift

· A political scandal (in the UK) over social gatherings held in defiance of public health restrictions during COVID

· The pose of an animal lying flat on the stomach with its legs stretched out

· A heated building where people who cannot afford to heat their homes may go

· Relating to Charles III of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

· The strategic use of legal proceedings to intimidate or hinder an opponent

· The practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do

· The promotion of sporting events to distract attention from a controversial activity

· A significant change in a prevailing cultural atmosphere or trend.

Macquarie Dictionary · truth-telling · The act of relating the facts of a situation exclusive of any embellishment or dilution applied as justification for past actions.

You knew there would be splooting pictures, right?

Happy New Year to you all. “See you” in 2023!

Donna Bradley Burcher |Technical Editor, Advisory | jack henry™

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123

Pronouns she/her/hers

Symitar Documentation Services

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

Did someone forward this email to you? Click here to subscribe.

Don’t want to get Editor’s Corner anymore? Click here to unsubscribe.

Do you have a question or an idea for Editor’s Corner? Send your suggestions or feedback to Kara and <a href="mailto:DBurcher.

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
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Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
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Posted by: Jack Henry | December 27, 2022

Editor’s Corner: 100 Percent!

I remember when I started editing here at Jack Henry, I had a lot of questions. In fact, I did so much research, it felt like that was my job. Over the years, I don’t need Merriam-Webster or the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) quite as much, but they are still only a click away. Today’s topic is one I remember looking up, but I can’t remember if I shared this information with you.

Today’s topic is percent and percentages. I’ll cover the following:

· Which word should we use?

· Should we spell out the word or use the symbol (%)?

· What if we are talking about a range of percentages?

I’m here, and I’m ready with answers! Since we follow the CMOS in technical publications, I am providing explanations that follow the same rules.

Which word should we use?

Percent: Percent should be used when you need an adverb or an adjective. Here is an example of each:

  • Adverb: Statistics show that 90 percent of the children who were juniors and seniors in high school during COVID did not feel ready for college. (In this case, percent means “out of 100.”)
  • Adjective: I achieved a 50 percent increase in gray hair coverage last time I dyed my hair. (Here, 50% modifies increase.)

Percentage: Percentage is the noun form of the word.

  • Noun: Nicole donates a percentage of her paychecks to the Salvation Army.

Should we spell out the word or use the symbol (%)?

According to our buddies at CMOS, the rule depends more on your audience and content than anything else. Nontechnical writing usually requires that you write out percent, for example “My dog would eat 25 percent more food if I would let her.”

Since our writers here are called “technical writers,” we assume that our content is technical in nature, and our writers use the symbol, for example, “The interest rate is up 1.5% compared to last year.” There is no space between the numbers and the symbol.

What about a range of percentages?

There are several ways to write a range of percentages:

  • 20% to 30%
  • 20%–30%
  • Between 20% and 30%

Who knew there were so many questions about percent and percentages in everyday use? Well, now you know how to use them correctly at Jack Henry!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/

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