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Category: Writing Guides

Words You Use but Don’t Know

on October 31, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Conversation is often more about phrases than words, to the point where we often use the phrases without thinking about the individual words at all.

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10 Quick Tips for Using Adverbs

on October 1, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Adverbs are modifiers used specifically to explain, describe, and define the way actions occur. They’re very simple things, which obviously means that using them can get complicated. Following these ten tips should help.

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Italics: The Dos and Don’ts

on August 14, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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I spend a lot of my editing hours at ProofreadingPal dealing with wayward italics, so let’s talk about times when they are used properly and when they aren’t.

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Quick Guide to Colons and Semicolons

on August 6, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Let's talk about two marks that set off complementary information, phrases and clauses without which a sentence is incomplete: the colon and the semicolon.

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3 Steps to Good Description

on July 30, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Two schools of thought have helped define the English lit attitude toward writing description since the Modern Period. To oversimplify, we can use Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald as touchstones.

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Guidelines for Quoting and Paraphrasing Part II

on July 24, 2018 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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In today’s post, I’ll look at three potentially problematic issues related to quoting and paraphrasing and give tips to be successful with each.

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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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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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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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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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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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Microsoft Word Guide: Using the Ruler for Indents

on December 4, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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Let’s look at how Word’s built-in ruler automates the indentation of text, along with why you should use it rather than indenting manually.

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Common Apostrophe Errors

on November 30, 2017 by Proofreading Pal in Writing Guides
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While researching apostrophe use and common associated errors, I learned several interesting facts...

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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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