Strunk & White Still Good Advice

12 Aug

Most people are quick to go to sites like Grammar Girl or The Oatmeal when they have questions about writing. These sites are ideal for looking up whether you want to know if it’s whiskey or whisky or what a dangling modifier is. They provide sound information on how to write correctly. But when it […] read more »

Proper Geographical Abbreviations

5 Aug

The month of July is winding down as I write this, and this has been a month for contemplating the consequences of a nation’s separation from another geographical and political entity. Last month, the United Kingdom held a referendum paving the way for its withdrawal from the European Union, and the United States commemorated its […] read more »

5 Obsolete Grammar Rules

5 Aug

It’s not bad enough we have to learn grammar; we also have to unlearn it. Grammar is as subject to fashion as everything else. After all, it’s just a set of somewhat arbitrary rules about which word goes where based on centuries of contradicting data and opinions. While the changes in grammar keep the publishers […] read more »

Hyphens in Numbers, Prefixes, and Modifiers

20 Jul

Last time, I wrote many helpful things about using hyphens in compound words. In today’s post, I look at some specific grammatical constructions and how hyphens are used in them. Numbers Many numbers are written with hyphens. While in some style guides numbers above nine are done with numerals, others insist on writing them out. […] read more »

How Reliable Is Spell Check?

8 Jul

Short Version MS spell check has major limitations, but if we account for that, it’s an incredibly helpful tool. Long Version The first time I saw Office Suite’s spell check function, I just about cried with joy. (Shut up. I’m a nerd.) Gone forever would be the days of having words like “metaphore” and “ocurrance” […] read more »

Guide to Using Hyphens in Compound Words

7 Jul

Recently I’ve gotten a little obsessed with compounds words and the hyphen, that little punctuation mark that can cause so much confusion. My interest in this started when I was looking into the spelling of the word “healthcare.” Oops! I mean “health care”… or “health-care”? The spelling of this word gives people have a hard […] read more »

2 Great Tips for Self-Editing

7 Jul

Whether you’re a writer, professional editor, or client for a professional editor, you can always benefit from a little self-editing. However, reviewing your own work is one of the most difficult things you can do. We’re all too close to our own work; we know what we meant to say, and this can get scrambled […] read more »

How Many Spaces After a Period?

1 Jul

I’ve written a little about how the limitations of an obsolete technology (i.e., the mechanical typewriter) have continued to shape the way people work with text. This influence shows up mainly in individual habits by people who don’t know the rules have changed. And there’s no harder habit to break than one that was once […] read more »

How to Write a Business Plan

28 May

We’ve been talking a lot about the business aspects of writing lately, such as how to get set up at tax time and how to structure your writing as a business for maximum tax benefit and minimum fuss. But all that entails actually being a business, and that concept can be scary to a lot […] read more »

4 Fixes for Comment Boxes in MS Word

28 May

Whether you’re an editor or working with an editor, you’re going to deal with comment boxes, which can bring up a whole new realm of issues, which can lead to a whole new range of curse words. But here’s a quick guide to fixing the four most common problems: The comment box is formatted strangely. […] read more »

MS Word Formatting Errors

26 May

Word processing software, particularly Microsoft Word, has become so ubiquitous over the last twenty-five years that it’s hard to imagine many of ProofreadingPal’s clients—many of whom are students or academics—have ever written any other way. The mechanical typewriter is long gone from mainstream American life. But this obsolete technology continues to influence the way that […] read more »

Research Tips for Better Writing

26 May

You’ve probably had the experience of planning to make a recipe only to find that you were missing an ingredient or two. Maybe you decided to make chocolate chip cookies and realized you have no chocolate chips. Did you make the cookies without chocolate chips and hope for the best? Probably not, but if you […] read more »

Professional-Looking Book Layout

15 Apr

We’ve all seen it: a book that looks great on the surface, with an attractive cover and engaging description on the back. But lurking inside is a well of horrors, some of which we never even realized we feared until we saw them printed in front of us. Just what is it that makes some […] read more »

3 Tips for Writing Better Dialogue

14 Apr

 “And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?” Stories survive on their dialogue. Yes, there are some great novels with page after page of narration and description, and if you’re a future Nobel-winner wunderkind, more power to you. For the rest of us, it’s in conversations that characters primarily […] read more »

10 Tips for Writing Effective Recommendations

14 Apr

A workplace is defined as much by social interactions as by the work that gets done. Now, not all of those interactions are pleasant (We’ve all endured that grumbling client or that tattletale coworker.), but some can be immensely satisfying. Praise and compliments make us feel good, and they’re actually good for us. A study […] read more »

Does Good Grammar Really Matter?

4 Apr

OK, because I make a living fixing people’s grammar, I’m obviously going to say that good grammar is super-duper important. But give me a moment anyway, if you please, because I’m going to explain why and when. In fact, let’s look at the “when” issue first. There are times when getting your point across relies […] read more »

How to Set Up a Writing Business

28 Mar

We’ve talked about some of the basics writers need to keep in mind around tax time, but the best thing you can do to help your taxes is to set your writing up as a business. You’ll avoid some of the trickier bits altogether, like whether your writing is a hobby or a business and […] read more »

Avoiding Comma Errors Part II

26 Mar

In a previous post I wrote about some of the most common comma errors: between clauses, with conjunctive adverbs (e.g., “however”), in a series or list, and with the words “which” and “that.” In today’s post I will address a few more common comma errors. Naming Things In writing, we often need both to name […] read more »

Easy Formula for LinkedIn Recommendations

26 Mar

To follow up on our look at using testimonials in your resume, let’s flip the script. Maybe one of your colleagues is looking for consulting work, or perhaps a young person whom you have mentored is setting off on a new career path. A recommendation from you could help that person land a position. How […] read more »

How Taxes Work for Writers

2 Mar

It’s tax season, and U.S. residents are thinking hard about that deadline (although this year, thanks to a holiday, you have until Monday, April 18, to file). As you gather up your forms, papers, and shoeboxes of receipts and pour a strong cup of coffee, remember to think about how your writing affects your taxes. […] read more »

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