Do You Need a Comma Before ‘And’?

If you find it confusing whether or not you need a comma before “and,” the answer is that usually you do. If “and” separates two short words or phrases, you can skip the comma: A flowered quilt and odd-shaped pillows were strewn across the sofa.    Usually, though, “and” separates matters of greater complexity: Put the wagon in the garage, ... Read More

Semi-Colons in a Series: Cool or Blooper?

As a book editor, I’m sensitive to trending grammar and punctuation mistakes. I say “trending,” because they seem to emerge as trends, creeping into people’s writing like shadows, until pretty soon, everyone is doing it. Have you noticed how lately you’re seeing a lot of semi-colons being used – instead of the humble comma – to separate items in a ... Read More

Italics, Bolding, or ALL CAPS—Which Is Best?

As you write your book, you probably sometimes wonder what’s the best way to emphasize important words. Your first instinct may be to place them in all capital letters (called “all caps” by book editors and publishers—IT LOOKS LIKE THIS). But that is rarely the best way to go. As you type your Word document, all caps look pretty good ... Read More

Watch Out for Those ‘Dangly Parts’: How to Spot and Fix a Dangling Participle

The following article was published as a guest post on James Chartrand's "Men with Pens" website. Remember “dangling participles” from back in grade-school English class? Probably not, but chances are you create them every day. They’re a major grammatical error, and once you know how to spot them, you’ll find these little nasties everywhere… probably even in your own content. ... Read More

How to Form the Possessive of Words Ending in ‘S’

If you found this blog page, chances are good you’re struggling right now with how to spell the possessive form of somebody’s name. The problem is, the name ends in ‘s,’ and it looks weird to add apostrophe ‘s’ after that. Besides, you’re pretty sure you’ve seen it both ways, but can’t remember for sure. So here we are: just ... Read More