Style, Grammar, and Usage: The Lowdown on Quality Writing

You might not be an editor, but you can probably spot the difference between a good piece of writing and one that’s lousy. High-quality writing pulls readers along without them realizing it — it’s approachable, interesting, and crisp. Writing can be weak for many reasons besides obvious grammar missteps. It could lack focus, supporting details, … [Read more...]

A Higher View of Content: The Subordinating Conjunction

Last week, I wrote about the coordinating conjunction and how it functions in a sentence, so it’s only natural that I now discuss its older brother, the hipster: the subordinating conjunction. Instead of unleashing a swift grammar lecture on you (which I’ve been known to do at times), I’ll explain my point by comparing subordinating conjunctions to … [Read more...]

A Higher View of Content: Five Common Words to Avoid

It’s safe to say most people don’t spend a great deal of time planning their next sentence, unless you’re a super nerd like me and have a serious obsession with lexis and language. (True story: My friend and I are currently teaching ourselves to speak Middle English – for no other reason than for sheer delight.) Think of Words as a Choice We have … [Read more...]

An Editor’s Take on Editing Software

Sometimes it’s not easy being an editor. Every sign or advertisement with a modifier out of place sets your teeth on edge. You have nightmares about a bad verb tense or a typo getting past you and (shudder) going to print. And, if you’re like me, you spend at least 20 minutes a day worrying about how grammar is barely taught in schools … [Read more...]

A Higher View of Content: Understanding the En Dash and Em Dash

As an editor, it’s my job to be fastidious. As a content writer, I understand the all-too-familiar scenario of clenched fists over a keyboard and a jaw line tightened in frustration while trying to decide whether to use a comma or a dash. While many people don’t think twice about the length of a horizontal punctuation mark, it’s my job to notice … [Read more...]

A Higher View of Content: Understanding the Hyphen

First things first: hyphens are not dashes. There are actually three different punctuation marks that resemble a short horizontal bar positioned at midlevel: the hyphen, en dash, and em dash. They all function differently, so it’s important to get all the facts before you start ornamenting your content with hyphens and dashes. Hyphenation for a … [Read more...]