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Guide to Commas, Dashes, and Parentheses

on July 4, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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The problem with having so many choices in punctuation is that often even experienced writers aren’t sure which is appropriate in a given situation. And indeed, the choice is sometimes arbitrary. But there are some common guidelines and conventions to help you along.

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Editing vs. Cheating

on June 30, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Business Proofreading and Editing
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Hiring an editor isn’t about getting someone to write your paper for you, and an ethical editor isn’t a writer for hire.

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5 Tips for Writing a PhD Application

on June 25, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Admissions Essays
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The most critical part of a PhD application is the research proposal and accompanying letter. These elements explain just what you plan to do for the next three to five years of your life, how you’ll contribute to the goals and recognition of the department you’re applying to, and why, exactly, you want to do something as crazy as pursue a PhD in the first place.

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How to Format Math and Equations

on June 6, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Essays
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In a mathematical expression, numbers, variables, and operators act like the parts of speech. Numbers and variables are nouns; operational symbols may variously act as conjunctions, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, or transitive verbs.

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Guidelines for Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources in Your Writing

on May 29, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Essays
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If you’re writing on a topic in literature, medicine, engineering, history, or anything else academic, you need to use outside sources to support your ideas, and whether you get a solid A or you flop depends a lot on how effectively you use your sources.

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How to Write Stock Characters: Good Villains

on May 12, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Fiction
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The audience must believe a villain would actually behave that way, which means understanding and even identifying with the villain’s motivations.

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The Optional Comma

on May 1, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Fiction
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The optional comma can go or not go somewhere depending on what you think works best. It sounds great, but actually, it’s grammar’s version of giving you enough rope to hang yourself.

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Mistakes New Fiction Writers Make: Dialogue

on April 28, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Fiction
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Using terms like "uttered," "exclaimed," or "interjected" can pull your reader out of the flow of your narrative and make them focus more on the words than on what you’re conveying with those words. And let’s not even get started on "ejaculated," the biggest dialogue-tag offender of all time!

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Nesting in Lists and Outlines

on April 18, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Let’s focus on the pre-writing phase of your project and how list making can be a useful method for organizing your words, and with them your thoughts

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When Grammar Check Is Wrong

on April 4, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Editing Tools
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I’ve already talked about the limitations of spell check, but grammar check is actually a trickier beast, sometimes offering what look like perfectly reasonable “improvements” to your work that actually are the opposite.

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Guide to Style Guides

on March 30, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Students learn that in addition to effectively applying the rules of English grammar and usage in their writing, they often must also follow conventions of a particular style guide. Style guides are primarily differentiated by their rules on documentation of sources. They also vary in terms of their formatting requirements.

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3 Tips for Using a Thesaurus

on March 16, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Editing Tools
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When used correctly, a thesaurus can help you punch up your writing by using just the right word when you want it. Here's three times a thesaurus can come to the rescue.

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Cheat Sheet for In-Text Citations by Style

on February 27, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Uncategorized
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In today’s post, I’ll explore the intersection of punctuation and in-text citations and the troubles that can arise.

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Using MS Word Lists: Bullets & Numbers

on February 20, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Editing Tools
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All writing tools or techniques should help you express yourself more clearly. Lists can be particularly useful for this, especially in dense academic writing. Presenting important information in discrete items, rather than a block of text, can alleviate visual clutter and even provide a key to structuring your piece.

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How to Write Stock Characters: The Likeable Superman

on February 16, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Fiction
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Headhopping: New Fiction Writers’ Mistakes

on February 1, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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All too often, new fiction writers get excited by the different perspectives their characters have to offer and jump between them in a single scene. This is intensely disconcerting—whose head are we in now? What are they thinking? Why did we leave the other character?—and should be avoided.

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World Building: How to Cut Down on Exposition

on January 22, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Fiction
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Creating a world for your story, whether based on the real world or not, involves a series of challenges, especially when it comes to not smothering your reader in exposition. Here's a straight-forward approach to the dreaded "exposition dump."

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Hanging Indents with MS Word Ruler

on January 13, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Editing Tools
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the first-line indent, by virtue of being so ubiquitous, seems quite intuitive and natural. But there’s another kind of indent, found almost exclusively in academic writing: the hanging indent.

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Quick Guide to Pronouns and Antecedents

on January 2, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Problems with pronouns and antecedents can significantly interfere with your readers’ understanding, so make sure each pronoun’s referent is crystal clear.

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Easy Guide to That vs. Which

on December 23, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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The rule for US English is actually pretty simple to state: use that when the phrase that follows is essential for the meaning of the noun (or is a dependent phrase), and use which when the phrase that follows offers additional, nonessential information about the noun (or is an independent phrase). Getting it right, however, can be complicated.

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