Usage

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How to Use the Semicolon to Connect Your Thoughts & Clarify Your Meaning

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Language & Editing

As an icebreaker activity in one of my publishing courses, a teacher asked us to give our names, what we liked to read for fun, and what our favourite punctuation marks were—something editors are likely to feel strongly about, even if no one else does. Ampersands were praised for their aesthetic appeal, em dashes for their versatility, and the Oxford (or serial) comma for its unfailing commitment to clarity....

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Possessives: Some Basic Rules on Using “s” and an Apostrophe

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Style

The most common mistakes with grammar often involve seemingly simple things. In English, possession is indicated using an apostrophe and, usually, an added “s. ” But maybe because spoken English doesn’t mark the difference between plurals and possessions, such as in “dogs” and “dog’s,” it is common even for experienced writers to make mistakes. This blog reviews some of the basic rules that can help you avoid these...

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To Friend or Unfriend? The Evolution of Nouns into Verbs

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Style / Usage

In 2009, “unfriend” was the Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year, leading to teeth-gnashing of grammar purists across the world. How could this be? How did “unfriend” become a word at all, when “friend,” until not so long ago, wasn’t even a verb, but merely someone with whom you enjoyed spending time?   The English language, like all languages, is constantly evolving. “Unfriend” may still seem strange to us,...

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Tidying-Up Your Academic Writing: The Magic of the Reverse Outline

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Style / Editor/writer

January is the time of year when we begin hearing from students who need help with their dissertations, theses, and papers. To help them out, we're revisiting this blog from TEC's archives on how to craft a reverse outline! ***** Could your academic writing use a good de-cluttering?   While doing structural editing for a client—especially with graduate students’ theses or dissertations—I’ve often found myself using the same little trick when faced with...

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The Online World of Grammar and Usage: Reliable Online Editorial Resources

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Style / Editor/writer

Although you’re unlikely to find many writers or editors willing to give up the hard copies of their dictionaries or style and usage guides, working as a writer or editor in the 21st century has its perks: the list of reliable online editorial resources gets longer every year. Here’s a great listing to get you started.   Online Style Guides Online bastions of editorial integrity include well-known editorial authorities such as...

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A Post- Post

Editing / Usage

      The postgraduate student researching the rise of postmodernism in the postwar period found herself with post-traumatic stress disorder. A wealthy dealer gave the famous post-impressionist artist a post-dated cheque for his painting of a post-apocalyptic landscape. The soccer coach thought it would be best to postpone the weekly postgame festivities and throw one major postseason party instead.   The prefix “post,” it would seem, follows us everywhere. But...

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Back from the Archives: Editing & Hyphens: Tips on Hyphenating Your Writing

Editing / Usage

This week, we wanted to re-post one of our most consistently popular blogs: Barbara's 2015 blog on hyphenation! Even two years later, it's always at the top of our "most viewed" lists -- clearly, tips about hyphenation are never out of season! We hope it reaches some new writers seeking guidance and helps them out too.     They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. ...

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Editors Go Global: Inspiration at the Keynote Address

Editing / Usage

Last week was a very exciting event for editors in Canada (and around the world)--the 2015 EAC International Conference, "Editing Goes Global," was held in Toronto. Organized and hosted by the Editors' Association of Canada, this  was the first-ever global conference of editors, and obviously TEC staff jumped at the chance to attend! There were so many great seminars, it was hard to choose which to sit in on,...

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Editing & Hyphens: Tips on Hyphenating Your Writing

Editing / Usage

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So when I recently came upon a text riddled with hyphens popped in willy-nilly where they didn't belong, I felt a bit sad (moderating my emotions in accordance with John Benbow's words of advice: "If you take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad"). If only the author had known the basics of hyphenation! Sure, we all know the overarching rule: hyphens...

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I Teach, Therefore I Edit

Editing / Usage

In my life outside of TEC, I also work as a sessional English instructor, meaning I am hired on a sessional (or semester by semester) basis to teach courses for which full-time (usually tenured) staff is not available. I’ve done this for a number of years and it’s a good way to add variety to my working life.   I have taught upper- and lower-level genre courses at a well-established...

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Canadian Versus American English: Surprising Differences

Editing / Usage

As an editor who works primarily for the Canadian market, I am amazed at all the subtle differences that separate Canadian and American English, and how difficult it can be to keep track of them. Even the work of seasoned Canadian authors often contains inconsistent spellings of certain words. In fact, some Canadian readers may be unaware of all the differences between American and Canadian English.   First off,...

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Book review: Bill Walsh’s Lapsing into a Comma (2000)

Editing / Usage

During my third year at university, the professor of one of my copy-editing courses began her first seminar by listing the names of several useful style guides. These were the books we were expected to get our hands on if we truly wanted to become well-read and informed editors. She, of course, mentioned every editor’s staples: The Chicago Manual of Style, the Canadian Press Stylebook, and the MLA...

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