Common Idiom Use Errors

5 Feb

Here at ProofreadingPal, we have a lot of clients who speak English as a second (or third, or whatever) language. As someone whose only Spanish skill is to ask for a drink or a bathroom and whose only German is to note that the record player is broken (long story), I’m deeply respectful of the […] read more »

5 Tips for Better Writing Habits

3 Feb

One of my six-year-old son’s favorite gifts this holiday season was a science kit featuring the magic of chemistry. After a few warm-up experiments, my husband and son were working on an experiment guaranteed to have an exciting conclusion: the “Mega-Fizz-Bang!” They got everything ready, carefully measured the citric acid powder into the test tube, […] read more »

How Do Teachers Grade Papers?

3 Feb

There are a lot of myths about school, like being able to leave the classroom with impunity if the teacher is ten minutes late and the one about what the meatloaf is made of. One myth popular in high school and college is that multiple-choice and short-answer tests are “more objective” than essay assignments. Students […] read more »

What Goes at the Top of a Resume?

1 Feb

There are three types of resume headers. Choose the one you need carefully. Like most everything, resumes are subject to trends and fashions, and when fashion is involved, some changes will be durable and useful while others will be embarrassing fads. One change in the last couple decades has been the addition of what I’ll […] read more »

Write Clearly with the Right Words

7 Jan

English is a confusing language at the best of times because of its many linguistic influences over the years. It’s our job here at ProofreadingPal to uncover and fix such instances, and there are a few words particularly that we find ourselves changing over and over again to make language more precise. Using “They/Them/Their” in […] read more »

Colophon: The Publication Page

26 Dec

We’ve all seen and ignored it a million times, that page at the front of a book with all the dense little lines of text and strings of numbers. What the heck is it? And why do you need to consider it if you’re self-publishing? That page at the front of the book is the […] read more »

How to Write an A Paper

26 Dec

You read the assignment carefully. You cite your sources perfectly. You stick to the scope of the class. You answer every last question. You submit your essay with pride. You get a B. You feel, quite rightly, frustrated. Just what the #@&! do you have to do, you wonder, to get an A? If you’re […] read more »

What Personal Information Goes on a Resume

1 Dec

So you’re nearly finished writing your resume. Time for a quick existential crisis! Your resume is looking great. You’ve provided timelines for your education and work histories, used bullet points to emphasize your achievements, and documented your professional skills. And you’ve done it all with room to spare! (White space is your friend.) But you […] read more »

Differences in a Paraphrase, Summary, and Précis

30 Nov

Look up “paraphrase,” “summary,” and “précis” in the dictionary, and you’re going to find a lot of overlapping ideas, but the uses of these terms (especially in academic writing) have quite well-defined boundaries. All these terms deal with the idea that you’re reading something someone else wrote and then putting it in different terms while […] read more »

How to Avoid Comma Errors

6 Nov

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of talking to a person who talks a mile a minute without pausing taking a break or allowing you to interject and they can be very very hard to understand. On the other hand, you’ve probably also noticed, that some people, speak so slowly, and with so many pauses, […] read more »

When Do I Cite in APA?

29 Oct

We’ve talked about how to cite references in APA, but how about when to cite? If you’re not used to citing with APA, it can feel . . . kinda weird. Sure, you remember from English class that you’re supposed to cite your source whenever you quote something, or even specifically paraphrase a passage. You […] read more »

US vs. UK English Grammar

29 Oct

We know there are many word differences between American and British English (truck = lorry, toilet = loo, rubber = condom or eraser—how do the Brits know which is which?!), but less well known is that there are a few key grammatical and spelling differences between US and UK English. When writing in one dialect […] read more »

Fanfic Fairness 101

29 Oct

By now, nearly everyone knows what fanfic is. What was once the realm of only the most devoted followers of certain books, shows, or movies is now public knowledge, thanks in large part to the success of 50 Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, which was originally fan fiction based on the immensely popular Twilight […] read more »

Run-on Sentence or Long Sentence?

1 Oct

What’s the difference between a run-on sentence and a long sentence? Why are sentences in old books often much longer than sentences today? Just how long should sentences be? Run-on Sentences Sentences are pretty simple things. With a very few exceptions, sentences have to have a subject (a thing) and a verb (an action taken […] read more »

How and When to Write Complaint Letters

26 Sep

 At some point, you will have a bad experience with customer service. Some employee in a restaurant, airport, or retail store will botch a simple task, causing you no end of inconvenience and embarrassment. You will be moved to write to upper management to express your displeasure. But before you write that letter and send […] read more »

What Is Passive Voice and How Do I Use It?

25 Sep

One writing-related question I’ve thought about a lot is why the passive voice is so commonly (over)used. People don’t tend to speak in the passive voice nearly as much as they write in it, after all. For those of you not lucky enough to be a grammar nerd like I am, here’s a quick terminology […] read more »

Should I Use First, Second, or Third Person?

3 Sep

 A Definitive Guide to Using Perspective in Academic, Business, and Fiction Is it OK to use first person (I/my/we/our) in a research paper or job application? Is all formal writing done in third person (he/she/they/one)? Why does the teacher keep crossing out second person (you/your) in student essays? The issue here is perspective. First person […] read more »

What Is Fair Use?

3 Sep

We’ve all had it drilled into our heads that we have to cite and reference everything in academic papers to avoid plagiarism. But fiction is different, isn’t it? Because it’s all made up, we can quote, cite, paraphrase, name-check, and reference rampantly, right? Wrong. When we put word to page, our text immediately goes under […] read more »

How to Write without Clichés: Part 2

22 Aug

In Part 1, we talked about what clichés are, why they’re bad, and what they’re not. This time, we’re looking at why people keep using them anyway and just where the tired, stale things like to hide. Why Are Clichés So Irresistible? Clichés serve many purposes. Unfortunately, they’re all bad. Clichés Are Easy Writers are […] read more »

Master Resume: Activate Your Interviews

22 Aug

It’s easy to open an article with an arresting image or statistic, but transitioning from an entertaining intro to the informative body of the article is sometimes awkward. A good trick is to engage the reader directly with a call action within the first hundred or so words. If the article is about a hobby, […] read more »

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