Quick Guide to Common Old-School Abbreviations

January 13, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

This quick guide to some of the most common, old-school, and occasionally forgotten abbreviations should help you stay on track.

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Comparison Charts for APA, MLA, and CMS References

January 6, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in APA, MLA

A handy chart of the major English styles: Chicago, MLA, and APA.

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Plotting Fiction: The Milieu Story

January 6, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Exactly what sort of payoff you need to deliver will be determined by the kind of story you’re telling. Over the next months, we’ll look in greater detail at the four story types laid out in my previous blog post. Today, we’ll consider the milieu story: what it is, where it starts, and how it ends.

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Microsoft Word: Inserting Symbols

December 9, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Editing Tools

Ever wonder how documents manage to have text that isn’t on your keyboard? Ever wonder what some of those things mean?

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Are You a Better Writer than a Fifth Grader?

December 3, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

After freelance proofreading, editing, and writing and doing small-group literacy and math intervention for the past nine years, I find teaching ten-year-olds reading and writing this year a fascinating, eye-opening, and challenging experience. Reflecting on lessons I’ve learned teaching kids to write this fall, I realized that what my students struggle with is what writers of all ages struggle with, just at a different level.

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3 Warnings for Using a Thesaurus

November 21, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Editing Tools

In my teaching and editing experience, there are three basic thesaurus user types: EFLs, native speakers who feel their vocabulary is limited and want to “sound smart,” and people who actually know what they’re doing with this literary version of a loaded gun.

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Plotting Fiction: Beginnings and Endings

November 18, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

A story demands resolution. The promise of a solution to a mystery, or generally an answer to a question, is what keeps audience turning pages. There are few things more frustrating than an ending that comes too soon or too late.

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How to Capitalize Medicine

November 5, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

In today’s post, I will write about a related topic: capitalization of medication names. The rule is simple, and it’s essentially the same as the rule for capitalizing diseases and most other things.

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“Was Done by the Researcher” Must Die

October 23, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

Plotting Fiction: Get Your Facts Straight, Part 2

October 15, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

There’s an old adage in journalism: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” If you’re writing fiction, you needn’t go that far; the details of your characters’ lives and relationships need only be internally consistent. But you are ultimately responsible for vouchsafing every aspect of your story’s world—its historical, political, natural, and technological environment—that you have not invented from whole cloth.

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How to Capitalize Disease Names

October 5, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

If you’ve ever been confused about how to capitalize disease names, read on. In today’s post, I’ll provide you with three simple, hopefully easy-to-remember, rules on the proper capitalization of disease names.

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Plotting Fiction: Get Your Facts Straight, Part 1

September 16, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Inaccuracies creep in when we are in the heat of creation. We take shortcuts because we don’t want to break the spell. We’re writing a suspenseful scene; our killer needs to immobilize the prey. What’s a fast-acting sedative? A quick Google search throws up a name. We write it in and move on. We can always fill in the details later, we think. And then, well, frequently we don’t.

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An Easy Guide to Articles: A, An, and The

September 10, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

There are three articles: “a,” “an,” and “the.” All of them function as adjectives.

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Simple Guide to Using “If” or “Whether”

September 2, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

The English language is full of words that seem to perform the same function but have true differences when you need to be specific. In technical, instructive, and other forms of business or formal writing, “if” and “whether” serve different functions.

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Tips to Help Children Write Better

August 29, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

With school having started already some places and about to start in others, many parents and caregivers are faced with the challenge of needing to be more actively involved in their children’s education than ever.

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Plotting Fiction: Keeping Track of Time, Part 2

August 26, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Reconciling objective and subjective chronology might seem simpler in fiction: after all, the author controls both the clock and the perceptions of the characters. But our everyday inaccuracy in estimating the passage of time carries over to our writing.

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Commonly Confused Homophones

August 7, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Ah, the double-edged sword of spell-check. That little red squiggle under misspelled words can be so helpful in drawing your attention to words in need of correction. But the absence of that little red squiggle can give a false sense of security, leading you to think your writing is spelling-error free when it might be filled with correctly-spelled incorrect words. One troublesome group of word is homophones.

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Plotting Fiction: Keeping Track of Time, Pt 1

August 3, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Our heroes live in a world, and despite all their antics, life goes on for everyone else. The sun rises and sets, the shops open and close. Keeping track of time means reconciling the activities of our characters with the big picture of our settings.

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Bad Parallelism, Good Parallelism

July 14, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

“Parallelism” means the same parts of a sentence must be of the same type. But I’m not sure how helpful that is as a definition, so let’s take a slightly longer look through a few examples.

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Implicit Racism in Writing

July 1, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Guides

Implicit racism is woven into the fabric of American society. It plays a part in everything, including writing. Writers may try to be inclusive and unbiased, but it can be hard to weed out bias without taking time to deeply examine language’s and culture’s meanings, bias, and oneself.

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