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Category: Writing Guides

Emphasize with Sentence Structure

on June 23, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Using sentence structure for emphasis does not get distracting even if you do it all the time because readers won’t usually notice what you’re doing and won’t mind even if they do.

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Can They Be a Singular Pronoun?

on June 20, 2017 by Chris in Writing Guides
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Unlike some other languages, English lacks a pronoun for speaking about a person when their (or, um, his or her) gender is unknown. This is awkward in discussing hypothetical situations and when referring to people who don’t identify as male or female.

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Tips for Better Sentence Structure

on May 24, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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My two tips today deal with the most common mistakes in sentence structure I see here at ProofreadingPal.com: bad parallelism and bad sentence chronology. Big words, but easy fixes.

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Between vs. Among: Commonly Confused Words

on May 18, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Before we consider the question of between vs. among, let’s look at the distinctions of degree that follow. When we speak of “more people” or “a larger number of people,” the meaning is functionally the same, but we choose the adjective based on whether we’re talking about countable objects or mass or abstract nouns. Between and among are also affected.

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When to Use Who and Whom

on May 6, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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I see this one done incorrectly all the time—not just at work, but also in published writing. The problem doesn’t seem to be confusion between the subject “who” and the object “whom,” but confusion about how sentences work. So let’s start there.

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Top 4 Misspelled Words

on March 31, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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I’m interested in writing about these four words in one post because, apart from being misspelled all the time, they seem to have nothing in common.

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The “Misunderstood” Scare Quotes

on March 28, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Scare quotes should rarely be used. For one thing, they frequently send the message that the writer couldn’t be bothered to state things clearly.

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Comparison and Contrast: Commonly Confused Words

on March 18, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Expressions of comparison and contrast are a vital part of language. It’s useful to be able to set things side by side and describe how they stack up in terms of size, number, or degree.

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How to Avoid Fragments

on February 9, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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A sentence is a complete thought, almost always with a subject and a verb. At its most basic, a sentence has a thing doing something or having something done to it. In a fragment, at least one of these elements is missing, and so the fragment can’t stand on its own as a complete thought.

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5 Times to Write Good Transitions

on February 2, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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There are many transition words and phrases out there. I’ll highlight some of the most common ones by the situation in which they may be used.

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Strunk & White Still Good Advice

on August 12, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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When it comes to writing well, you’d be hard-pressed to find better advice than that contained in William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style. First published in 1935, this slim volume provides wise guidance still relevant in today’s world of instant communication.

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Proper Geographical Abbreviations

on August 5, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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These rules do not arise organically but are handed down by self-appointed arbiters usually speaking for an affiliation of publishers. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), for instance, serves as the argument-ender for hundreds of magazines and newspapers.

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5 Obsolete Grammar Rules

on August 5, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Grammar is as subject to fashion as everything else. So to keep you up to date, here are five grammar rules that rule no more.

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Hyphens in Numbers, Prefixes, and Modifiers

on July 20, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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In today’s post, I look at some specific grammatical constructions and how hyphens are used in them.

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Guide to Using Hyphens in Compound Words

on July 7, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Editing Tools
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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”?

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How Many Spaces After a Period?

on July 1, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Typing two blank spaces at the end of every sentence is one such habit. Lots of people still do it because it used to be a rule, and that’s how they were taught. And they, in turn, pass the “rule” along to the next generation of writers. But for most kinds of writing, the two-space habit is, in fact, no longer the rule.

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Research Tips for Better Writing

on May 26, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Writing a research paper is like following a recipe. You take certain “ingredients,” follow the right steps, and end up with a finished product. Skip important steps or ingredients, and your finished product will suffer, as will your grade.

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Does Good Grammar Really Matter?

on April 4, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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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.

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Avoiding Comma Errors Part II

on March 26, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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More advice, explanations, and examples about those pesky commas errors and how to avoid them.

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Common Idiom Use Errors

on February 5, 2016 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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But being fluent in a language doesn’t just mean memorizing a list of idioms (hundreds of which will come up on a quick Google search). You have to know how and when to use them.

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