Tag Archives: copyediting

Hyphens and Compound Adjectives


"Old, oak tree" OR "Old oak tree"?

Take a noun, any noun, and stick two adjectives in front of it. Do you need to connect them with a hyphen? Or can you simply leave them alone?  

The answer is “depends.” More accurately, it depends on what they’re doing to the noun, and what they’re doing to each other.   Continue reading

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10 Words to Avoid When Writing


Writing is a combination of art and craft. The art comes from lots of reading, talking, thinking, dreaming, and writing. The craft is primarily technique. Some techniques are complex, but a few are very simple and will instantly strengthen your writing. In many cases, however, strengthening writing simply means avoiding those things that weaken it.

We have identified 10 words that nearly always weaken writing. In no particular order, they are as follows.

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There Can Be Only One


Chocolate is my most favorite ice cream flavor. Pistachio is my least favorite flavor. Most of the best ice cream is made with chocolate, and most of the worst ice cream is made with candied fruit. All in all, most of the best flavors have some type of chocolate. 

Although it’s true that chocolate is the best of all ice cream flavors, the statements above are wrong. They have logic problems with the use of superlative terms. A superlative term is a word that indicates the penultimate level of some characteristic. That’s a fancy way of saying “the most.” Continue reading

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Commas for Lunch


Learn to use commas correctly, leading to professional and clear writing. “Commas for Lunch,” a live, 1-hour online course by David Bowman, chief editor of Precise Edit.

Topics include the 6 major uses of commas and the 3 most common places where people use commas when they shouldn’t. Participants’ questions will also be discussed and answered.

Date: February 4, 2011
Time: 11:00 a.m. EST
18 seat maximum
Free

The course PDF is $0.99 (not required to participate).
Click here to register, or visit PreciseEdit.com for more information.

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Top 5 Strategies to Improve Your Writing


When I teach writing classes, give book talks, or generally discuss strategies for improving written communication, I often get this question: “What are the best strategies for writing well?” 

Writers (anyone who communicates through writing) can do many things to improve the clarity, correctness, and impact of their writing. Based on my years of helping clients improve their writing, here are my top 5 strategies. 

1. Use the Rhetorical Subject as the Grammatical Subject. 

The grammatical subject is the word in the “subject’s place.” Sometimes, the “doer” of the main action is not the grammatical subject (the word serving as the subject to the main verb). Consider this sentence: 

“Finding a solution is our greatest concern.”  Continue reading

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“Commas for Lunch”, a free on-line workshop.


Learn to use commas correctly, leading to professional and clear writing. “Commas for Lunch”, a one-hour on-line course by David Bowman, chief editor of Precise Edit. Date: Sept. 24, 2010 Time: 1:00 p.m. EST. 18 seat maximum Attendance is Free. COURSE FULL.

Stay tuned–We’ll do this again.

UPDATE: 0 Seats remain.

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Create a Well-Formatted Document


Some time ago I posted an article titled “Basic Computer Skills for Authors.” Then I wrote an article titled “Converting for Kindle” that gave tips on how to format a document and upload it to Kindle using basic HTML. After reformatting Word documents for clients, I realized that a third article is imperative, “Creating a Well-Formatted Document.” 

Consistent Format

When reviewing a document before I begin to reformat, the first thing I notice is inconsistency, as if the author were thinking, “Shouldn’t documents have multiple font settings, font sizes, and headings? Isn’t a document that’s fully clad more appealing to the reader? Shouldn’t I show the reader that I’m mad by doing this to the word mad: MAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?” 

No. They shouldn’t, it isn’t, and he shouldn’t.  Continue reading

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