I'm copyediting a book this week, so I have immersed myself in rules and rule-breaking for nonfiction writing. The project is a church history. To work quickly, I have been using my grammar and spelling checker to make obvious errors and inconsistencies pop. One that keeps popping is passive...
A friend of mine who works at a large, urban university on the West Coast shared an example of a business person who did NOT think about their audience. And the person's choice led to the loss of a customer order. The university's Department of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion wanted...
I'm helping two friends who have just completed a book manuscript. They work beautifully together and will have a wonderful book when it's finished. But right now, tiny inconsistencies appear everywhere. In one chapter, all numbers are in words; in another, most numbers are in figures. Sometimes the names of...
The other day a friend told me he was concerned about having taken on a copy editing job because he didn't yet feel confident of who/whom and whoever/whomever. How about you? Are you confident about where to use those pronouns? Take the test below to see whether your confidence or...
It's LGBTQ Pride month and a good time to start using gender-neutral language if you haven't started already. That's words such as people, folks, everyone, they, them, and their, which do not indicate gender. It's different from the expressions ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, men and women, sir,...
Earlier this month The New York Times published an interactive data-filled article on privacy policies titled "We Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible Disaster." Author Kevin Litman-Navarro performed several analyses. For example, he timed the minutes it took him to read a privacy policy. Craigslist's policy took the shortest amount...
Traveling recently in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, I visited many places that told the story of slavery in the South. From the start, I noticed that presenters used the phrase enslaved people or enslaved person rather than slaves or slave. The first time I heard enslaved people...
Below is a screenshot of the first half of an email invitation I received for a bill-signing event in Seattle. I understood the content and appreciated the invitation, but I couldn't help spotting all the errors. How many do you recognize? Feel free to edit the message and post your...
I saw this great card designed by Jessica Hogarth at my local supermarket. It's a thank-you card for a teacher. Does it contain an error? If so, where? If not, why not? Do you worry about whether errors are getting by you? Or that you are correcting non-errors? Check out these...
My daughter's friends in college are interviewing for internships and permanent positions. Days after their interviews some of them ask, "Should I have sent a thank-you?"  To them I say, Yes! And this blog post will help them--and you--write it.  The purpose of the all-important interview thank-you is to thank the...