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Copy Editing Copywriting Proofreading Punctuation Spelling and Grammar

Colons and semicolons: how to use them

Colons and semicolons are easy to confuse, and in my work as a proofreader and editor I see them misused daily. I’ll just go through the uses of each here. Colon : The colon’s main job is to join a statement with supporting facts. What comes after the colon cannot usually stand on its own […]

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Copy Editing Copywriting Proofreading Punctuation Spelling and Grammar

Professional titles and positions – should they start with a capital letter?

People have always been flattered by having their positions start with a capital letter. It marks them out from their subordinates, and makes Persons look Very Important. Anyone from The Queen down to the Area Manager can access an exclusive capitalisation club that is ever out of bounds to the cleaners, sales assistants and copywriters […]

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Copy Editing Copywriting Proofreading Spelling and Grammar

Can you start a sentence with a conjunction?

“You must not start a sentence with a conjunction.” That has been the mantra of many an exasperated English teacher, especially since the oiks started getting state education. Any pupil brave, daft or naive enough to raise a hand and ask “Why?” would receive some explanation along the lines of “Because it is said.” So […]

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Copy Editing Copywriting Long Reads Proofreading Spelling and Grammar

Our changing language: are editors doomèd?

An article by David Shariatmadari in the Guardian has inspired a bit of a buzz these past few days. It’s about the mutability of language, and how the quest for perfect English is a forlorn one. Read “Why it’s time to stop worrying about the decline of the English language” here (it’ll only take about […]

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Copy Editing Copywriting Proofreading Spelling and Grammar

Using “a” or “an” before an abbreviation

Should we say “an NHS doctor” or “a NHS doctor”? There are two schools of thought on this subject: “vocalisation of the abbreviation” and “vocalisation of the first word”. Abbreviation verbalised By this rule, if the abbreviation starts with a letter that starts with a vowel when vocalised, the article used is “an”; if it […]

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Copy Editing Copywriting Spelling and Grammar

Companies, teams and organisations: singular or plural?

A subject that never goes away is whether organisations should be treated as singulars or plurals. That is, whether we should say: Tesco is the UK’s largest retail company or Tesco are the UK’s largest retail company In this example, it seems pretty straightforward. The first reads more naturally and makes more sense. There’s no […]

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Copy Editing Long Reads Proofreading Punctuation Spelling and Grammar Typography

Hyphens, en dashes and em dashes: how to use them

They might all look vaguely similar, but hyphens and dashes serve very different purposes. Here’s a quick rundown of their differences and how to use them. Hyphen ‐ The hyphen is shorter than both dashes (although in some typefaces, it can look identical). It has two purposes in writing and typography: joining words and splitting […]

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Copy Editing Copywriting Long Reads Proofreading Spelling and Grammar

Readability analysis: accept, consider, ignore?

Imagine the scene. A graphic designer submits some branding materials to a client. The client’s marketing guy feeds the image into a scanner and takes a sip of coffee as the computer does his its work. Ten seconds later, the progress bar reaches 100 and a bullet list in red, amber and green fills the […]

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Copy Editing Proofreading Spelling and Grammar

How are copy editing and proofreading different?

Over 20 years of proofreading and copy editing, I’ve come to accept that most people outside the publishing industry don’t really know the difference between the two disciplines. Usually, when people don’t grasp the differences between two things, it turns out it’s because there really aren’t that many differences. I think this is the case […]