Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The real question I want answered this literary awards season ...

... is what the hell is proper style for referring to the terms "long list" and "short list"? It seems we're all over the map. I was prompted to ask after spotting this piece on Michael Christie's The Beggar's Garden on cbc.ca, which, if you include the web abstract, makes four inconsistent uses of the terms - longlist, long list, short list and, most inexplicably, short-list (as a noun) - in the span of about 350 words.

Does anyone know what the correct usage is? Is it based on grammatical context, e.g. "the shortlisted (or short-listed) authors are the ones who make the short list", or is it British vs. American style? If you can shed some light on this, leave a comment below.



  1. Oh, good question. I like to call it a shortlist on the theory that a shortlist is a different, and more specific, creature than a short list, which I might use if I were shopping for the ingredients of a single meal.

    Not that this sheds any light on anything other than my own strange ideas....

  2. Thanks for the comment A.J. I just glad people other than me wonder about these things as well.

  3. This cracks me up! I was thinking about this today as I noticed the various ways it was being written. The Giller Prize tweets have "shortlist" so that's what I"ll use.


  4. Yeah, I think that makes the the most sense. The hyphen doesn't make a lick of sense. Ohh, don't even get me started on the misuse of the hyphen....