When and When Not to Use Em Dashes

September 27, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

The en dash is used mostly for number ranges (e.g., 1928–1972) and in some stylebooks to suggest a hierarchical or interactive relationship between two nouns (e.g., father–son relationship). Except when people use an en dash when they want to us an em dash, writers tend to use en dashes properly. It’s em dashes that get abused.

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Adding Diacritics with MS Word’s Insert Tab

September 23, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Editing Tools

Let’s say you’re writing a paper about the history of the United Nations during the Cold War; there’s a single reference to the late secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld, and you need that diaresis over the o. It doesn’t make sense to add the name to AutoCorrect, because you anticipate never typing his name again after you finish this paper; heck, you’re never going to type it again after you finish this one sentence. What to do?

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Tips for Effective Digital Assignments

September 2, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Essays

With any digital assignment, follow steps similar to those you would follow for a traditional assignment like a paper. Read the assignment carefully and make sure you understand it fully, plan your process, ensure your argument is solid, conduct thorough research, write the text of your video using appropriate language, revise and proofread, and document your sources.

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Novels and Visual Effects in Film

August 26, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Most new writers I’ve worked with share the crucial misconception that the way to write a novel is to create a movie in their head and then write out that movie.

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Foreign Loan Words, Diacritics, and AutoCorrect

August 16, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

A given word may or may not then “read” to the English-trained eye as foreign, based on habit, familiarity, and longstanding usage. But language is a matter not only of the eye, but also of the ear. That’s where diacritics come in.

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Digital Assignments

July 28, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Essays

This fall, many schools will be returning to in-person learning, but no matter what your or your child’s mode of learning will be, the pandemic and the virtual learning it required will have a tremendous effect on teaching and learning from now on.

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Tips to Avoid Mixed Metaphors

July 20, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Whether your first language is English or not, you must have mixed your metaphors a time or two. In conversation, it’s not a biggie. Everyone (unless they’re an editor with no social skills) pretends it didn’t matter, and life goes on. But in writing, these matter. They sit there and taunt the reader to notice something is wrong, and usually they succeed.

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Foreign Loan Words and Diacritical Marks

July 8, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Foreign loan words are brought into English more or less intact, either in their original spelling (e.g., the German “schadenfreude,” the French “bistro”) or, if non-Western in origin, transliterated into the Latin alphabet (e.g., the Japanese “karaoke,” the Mandarin “kung fu”).

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Tips to Insert Objects into Word Documents (and Keep Your Sanity)

July 2, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Uncategorized

In Word, there are lots of little options and properties that dictate—and may unpredictably change—the positioning of an object. Understanding those, which I will discuss in this post, puts you in a much better place to avoid the rabbit hole of object placement issues.

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Why Adverbs Can Be Bad

June 17, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

Plotting Fiction: Outline or Improvise?

June 11, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Getting from an initial idea to a completed story seems like a mysterious process for the novice writer. Let’s demystify it a bit.

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Problems with Jargon and More When Writing for General Audiences

May 28, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

Writing on a specialized topic for nonspecialists can be a challenge for writers of all ages, and writers often face the task of writing to an audience outside their field. In today’s post I’ll offer some tips to help you write clearly and usefully for a broader audience even if your topic is very narrow.

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Adopting New Words vs. Slang, Part 1

May 17, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

I know, as an editor, I’m not supposed to say this, but when it comes to a language’s health, imposing grammatical rules isn’t nearly as important as staying relevant.

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Plotting Fiction: Putting the MICE Ratio to Work

May 7, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

The first step to solving any problem is diagnosing it. That begins with figuring out what kind of story you’re writing, which may not be the kind you intended. But it’s difficult, in the heat of creation, to analyze your own work. You can’t tell the size and shape of the forest when you’re lost among the trees. You need perspective.

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Common Errors When Using Names

April 27, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

For readability and clarity and out of respect for those referred to, it is important to be aware of how to use names grammatically and in accordance with proper style and social norms. In today’s post, I will review some common errors in using names and how to correct them.

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Guide to Transitions: Sentences

April 17, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

Last time, we talked about transitioning from topic to topic, which means from paragraph to paragraph. This time, let’s talk about the “micro-transitions” that occur inside the paragraph, sometimes from sentence to sentence and sometimes inside sentences.

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Plotting Fiction: The MICE Ratio

April 7, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

When a single thematic element predominates in a story, it suggests a particular narrative structure. When the ratio is more balanced, things can get tricky.

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Tips to Follow Directions in Writing Assignments

March 31, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Essays

In today’s post, I’ll share my thoughts on another relatable lesson. Good writers follow directions! Following directions is key in most activities, especially for writing assignments, which are most often accompanied by extensive written directions.

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Quick Guide to Transitions: Paragraphs

March 27, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

Transitions are essential to making sense in a proposition or argument, so it’s little wonder that writers tend to get wordy with them. Transitions hold the entire proposal together, keeping your essay/report/letter/memo/dissertation from just sounding like a lot of unrelated ideas.

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Plotting Fiction: The Event Story

March 20, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

The event story is similar to the character story in that both deal with disruptions to the status quo. A character story hinges on the protagonist’s desire to change their position in the world. In an event story, the world itself is changing. The established order—for good or bad—is under threat. The story ends with the reassertion of the old order, or the establishment of some new order.

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