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Tag Archive | revise

5 editor’s secrets to help you write like a pro

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Professional writers get work because they hit their deadlines, they stay on their message, and they don’t throw too many tantrums. Some pros have a great writing voice or a superb style, but as often as not, that gets in the way. When you know that the best word is “prescient,” it’s hard to swallow when an account manager tells you the client won’t know what it means.

Professional writers rely on editors to fix their clunks. Like good gardeners, sensitive editors don’t hack away—we prune and gently shape. When we’ve done a great job, the page looks just like it did before, only better. It’s the page the writer intended to write.

Editing, like writing, takes time to learn. But here are five fixes I make with nearly every project. Learn to make them yourself and you’ll take your writing to a more professional, marketable, and persuasive level.

1. Sentences can only do one thing at a time.

Have you ever heard a four-year-old run out of breath before she can finish her thought? I edit a lot of sentences that work the same way. You need a noun, you need a verb, you might need an object. Give some serious thought to stopping right there.

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10 Places to Ignore Your Grammar and Spelling Checker

Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training

Because grammar and spelling checkers are software programs, they can’t read your mind or know your intentions. They also frequently cannot distinguish between correct and incorrect sentence structures and the use of words that sometimes confuse us humans. Below are 10 places in which your software may be suggesting errors rather than correcting them.

 
1. When you use your reader’s name in a sentence. Grammar and spelling checkers may not recognize whether you are talking to or about the person. These sentences are correct, but my grammar and spelling checker flagged them anyway.
Eric, thanks for writing this article. [The comma after Eric’s name is correct because we are addressing him directly.]
Dave, in the employee version, add an example here. [My checker suggested changing add to adds–wrong!]
Lynn, may we have permission to print your material? [It suggested that I capitalize may as a month, which is incorrect, of course!]
2. When you begin a sentence with an introductory clause. Your grammar and spelling checker does not recognize where you intend the clause to end. In the first indented sentence below, for example, it may suggest a comma after write, Mark, or program. Just remember to use a comma before the main part of the sentence, as the sentences below do. They are punctuated correctly, although my grammar and spelling checker suggested additional commas.
When you write to Mark about the program in Kansas City, be sure he understands that it is in Missouri.
         If they do give you a copy of the receipt, keep it for your records.

If you want to help employees improve their writing, use this guide.

3. When your software suggests changing a verb from singular to plural or vice versa (by adding s, removing s, or changing from is to are, for example). Your grammar and spelling checker may frequently suggest new errors in subject-verb agreement. The three sentences below are correct, but my grammar and spelling checker suggested changing them.
Any files beginning with 000 need to be moved to the C drive. [Need is correct–not needs.]
Thank you for letting us know about your shopping experience. [Know is correct–not knows!]

The average number of words per sentence is 15 to 20. [The verb is is correct; are would be wrong.]

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