Thoughts about editing

Here I’ll keep a running list of tips or rants — some of which I’ve tweeted — about common writing mistakes. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

  • Just because a word has become halfway acceptable doesn’t mean you have to use it. For example, there is no real reason to say “gifting” instead of “giving.”
  • At the end of the day, please don’t use that phrase.
  • To be sure, I’m sick of “to be sure.”
  • Tweet: I don’t care what any dictionary says: There is no use for “utilize.”
  • Tweet: Friendly PSA amid all the weather-related tweets: There’s no “e” in lightning.
  • Tweet: It shouldn’t take five sentences to say the same, exact, alike, corresponding thing. Ah, the life of an editor.
  • RT @FakeAPStylebook: The passive voice should be avoided by you.
  • Apostrophes are for possessives, not for plurals.
  • When writing about numbers, don’t make it seem like you’re simply reading a chart out loud. Also, if it’s simple math, for the love of Yogi Berra don’t spell it out. Example: My shoes cost $150, $50 more than my pants, for which I paid $100.
  • Stop backing into sentences. Their feelings get hurt.
  • The following are not interchangeable: their/there/they’re; it’s/its; and your/you’re. Learn the differences among them.
  • Longer words don’t make you sound smarter.
  • Don’t tell editors you’re “just not good at that stuff.” Referring to proper spelling, grammar and communication skills as “that stuff” indicates you don’t care.
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