As a copy editor, I frequently talk with people about the reference books they use when writing. Oftentimes, the books mentioned are outdated or insufficient. If you’re interested in updating or expanding your reference library, here are three types of books every writer should own: a style guide, a dictionary, and a grammar manual. (Yes, I am being a bit dramatic when I say … [Read more...] about Three Types of Books Every Writer Should Own
The following guidelines explain when to use italics or quotation marks with foreign words to set them apart from the surrounding English text. These guidelines are for general words in business documents, nonfiction, journalism, and academic writing but aren’t for proper nouns, such as people’s names or place names, which typically don’t require special formatting. But … [Read more...] about When to Use Italics or Quotation Marks with Foreign Words
Is Colorado in the west or the West? Did the Allman Brothers Band play southern rock or Southern rock? Am I a midwesterner or a Midwesterner? Today’s post explains when to capitalize geographic regions in the United States. It also looks at when to capitalize those regions when they are used as adjectives and to describe U.S. geographic populations. U.S. Geographic … [Read more...] about When Should You Capitalize Geographic Regions in the United States?
My last post tackled the question of which style guide is best for you. Style guides work hand in hand with dictionaries, so the logical next question is, which dictionary is best for you? Just like style guides, certain dictionaries enjoy wider usage within specific writing categories, so we’ll look at three popular options and conclude with a brief discussion on pocket … [Read more...] about Which Dictionary Is Best for You?
Here are three guidelines that will help you determine when to capitalize historical time periods. Capitalization guidelines for historical time periods are influenced by tradition and whether they are named after a proper noun. As with all things influenced by tradition, these guidelines can change according to where you live—or in this case, which style guide or dictionary … [Read more...] about When Should You Capitalize Historical Time Periods?
Today’s post answers seven technology-related spelling questions: 1. Is it e-mail or email? 2. Is Internet capitalized? 3. Is it Web site, web site, or website? 4. Is it Web page, web page, or webpage? 5. Is Web capitalized when abbreviating the World Wide Web? 6. Is it tweet or Tweet? 7. Is it e-book or ebook? We’ll find the answers by examining four popular style … [Read more...] about Is It E-Mail or Email? Seven Technology Spelling Questions Answered
I previously published a post called "Five Helpful Writing and Editing Websites and Blogs." A five-item list is a measly attempt for such a large topic, so today’s post expands that original list to ten writing websites and blogs. These resources cover a wide variety of subjects, so I’m confident that you’ll find something here that you can apply to your business or nonfiction … [Read more...] about Ten Helpful Writing Websites and Blogs
The baby boomers are retiring! The millennials rule the world! The Generation Xers are ignored and neglected! Have you noticed all the headlines about the different generations lately? (Okay, maybe not about Generation X.) Despite all this media attention, we don’t have consistent guidelines for when to capitalize baby boomer, Generation Xer, and millennial. Here are two … [Read more...] about Should You Capitalize Baby Boomer, Generation Xer, and Millennial?
In a past post, we explored the guidelines for using the gendered pronouns he or she with animals rather than the neutral pronoun it. Today, we’re going to look at relative pronouns for animals, specifically who, that, and which. In general, the relative pronoun who applies to people, while that and which apply to objects. So, should you write “The cat who sits on the porch … [Read more...] about Relative Pronouns for Animals: Are Animals “Who” or “That”?
Copyeditor or copy editor? That is the million-dollar question! (Okay, maybe the thousand-dollar question.) I have been a proud member of the writing and editing community for over a decade. That’s long enough to have witnessed epic battles over the serial comma and near fisticuffs over hyphenation. (Believe me, no one wants to witness actual grammar-induced fisticuffs. That … [Read more...] about Am I a Copyeditor or a Copy Editor?
Here's the scenario: You've written and edited the perfect blog post in Microsoft Word, so you copy it into WordPress for publication. Just to be on the safe side, you run the Proofread Writing tool before clicking the publish button. WordPress tells you that the name of your beta project, WackiFeet, is spelled incorrectly throughout the post. But, you know that the spelling is … [Read more...] about How to Edit Your Ignored Words and Phrases in WordPress
Microsoft Word's spell-check is quite good. However, it occasionally puts that squiggly red line under something that is spelled correctly. Maybe it's a product, place, or company name. Maybe it's a person's first or last name. Regardless, most of us just right-click and select "Add to Dictionary" if we know we'll be using that word again. But, have you ever wondered where … [Read more...] about How to Edit Your Custom Dictionary in Microsoft Word
Wordpress Proofread Writing function available through Jetpack Most blogging platforms provide basic spell-check functionality. If you're using WordPress 3.6 or beyond, the spell-check is built into the Jetpack plugin and is accessed through the Proofread Writing button, as shown above. Many third-party plugins and browser-based add-ons also provide spell checking. However, … [Read more...] about How to Choose a Master Dictionary for Your Business Blog
Public libraries really are gifts that keep on giving. Not only do they house more books than any one person could possibly read in a lifetime (except maybe the character Henry Bemis from the Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last"), many also provide cardholders with access to free dictionary subscriptions. What Is a Dictionary Subscription? Dictionary subscriptions are … [Read more...] about Do You Need a Free Dictionary Subscription? Check Out Your Public Library!
Here is a list of ten example topics you may want to include in your organization’s house style guide. If you’re new to house style guides, be sure to check out my related post “What Are the Benefits of a House Style Guide?” That post defines house style guides and shares three things to do before creating your own. And of course, it discusses the benefits of using … [Read more...] about What Should Be in a House Style Guide?
Are you overwhelmed by the demands of writing new content for your small business? If so, a house style guide can simplify the entire process. Today’s post explains three benefits of house style guides as well as three things to do before creating your guide. My related post “What Should Be in a House Style Guide” explores specific topics you may want to include in your … [Read more...] about What Are the Benefits of a House Style Guide?
Do we go through a drive-thru or drive-through? That question is confusing enough to make anyone want to relax with a cheeseburger and some fries. According to our primary American-English dictionaries (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Webster's New World College Dictionary, and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language), drive-through is the preferred … [Read more...] about Do We Go through a Drive-Thru or Drive-Through?