When to Hyphenate Adverbs

When to hyphenate adverbs . . . it’s a question I’m sometimes asked as a book editor. The answer is, when you live in England. That sounds humorous, but actually I’m not joking. Grammar rules, you see, are different on the other side of the pond. In England they write “closely-watched cards” and “happily-playing children,” while in America, we write …

Read More

Nonfiction Authors: Three Tips to Brighten Your Writing

As a professional editor and writing coach, I find different clients making many of the same writing errors. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say these three are the most common among aspiring authors:
sentences stuffed with “clutter words,” long prepositional-phrase trains, and grandiose verbiage. Here are some tips to help you identify and remove these from your writing …

Read More

The Rule of Three in a Series

Bet you didn’t know this little rule of thumb, that will make your sentences trimmer and more professional whenever you have a series of something. And the rule is (drum roll): only list three in a series! Not four, not five, not as many items as you would like to list in the sentence, but three. Three period. If you have four, ... Read More

When to Capitalize Job Titles and Positions

One of the most common misuses of capital letters I come across as a professional editor is titles of jobs and positions. I think that’s because people remember sometimes seeing them capitalized, so they conclude that they always get capitalized. In fact, the opposite is usually the case. It’s okay to capitalize the name of a job or position only ... Read More

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. Usually, though, “and” separates matters of greater complexity …

Read More