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Category: Writing Guides

Control Your Tone with Your Mood

on November 2, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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When it comes to the real nuts and bolts of writing, you’ll find it easier to control your tone by paying attention to your mood. I don’t mean your personal mood, as in not writing when you’re angry or texting when you’re drunk (though that is sound advice). I’m talking about the mood we establish with our words.

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When Should I Use Contractions?

on September 1, 2017 by Chris in Writing Guides
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Use contractions whenever you want to adopt a conversational tone, contractions are the way to go. If you’re writing dialogue for a short story, a phrase like “Don’t you have it?” sounds more natural than “Do you not have it?” In marketing, using the patterns of everyday speech to communicate effectively with customers has been standard practice for decades.

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Don’t Buy Content Online: Reasons 1-3

on August 25, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Buying online content is not only unethical, it’s a terrible idea. You’re likely to get a badly written, unedited, factually incorrect piece of junk that’s barely better than if you just typed “I don’t know what to type for this paper” 500 times to fill the pages.

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Utilized: The Latest Misused Word

on August 11, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Using and utilizing something are not the same. To utilize something means to take something that was not practical or in typical employment and turn it into something useful. The word comes from “utility,” which means to be designed for a use or to be fitted for a specific purpose.

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Avoid Absolutes

on July 31, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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When we’re writing a paper, report, or anything else we want other people to take seriously, we have to respect the true meaning of these words: they are absolutes. As such, they can kill an otherwise sound argument, distract the reader from the point you’re making, and make you sound juvenile.

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Tips on Making Comparisons

on July 15, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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We make comparisons all the time, but we need specifics to make them meaningful.

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Is Wikipedia a Good Research Tool?

on June 30, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Since January 15, 2001, Wikipedia has been an informative, chaotic maelstrom of information online. Since January 16, 2001, it’s been viewed with skepticism, suspicion, and downright hostility. Should you use it for your paper?

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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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