7NEWS Snafus

Denver’s Channel 7 ABC News (KMGH) is always making mistakes in heads, decks, captions, and so forth in its online and on-air news stories. In what’s bound to be the first of many blog entries, I’ll share some of them from recent times. Read the rest of this entry »


The Top Eight Websites I Can’t Live Without

Fact checking is a vital part of any copy editor’s job. Copy editors should check not only authors’ facts; they should also check their own facts when replying to authors in comments or queries. Because even copy editors can hold mistaken presumptions.

For example, I recently was preparing a reply to another editor’s blog post, in which I meant to illuminate the difference between homonyms and homophones (a difference I had not long before seen someone else point out in a LinkedIn discussion). Before I clicked “Post,” however, I did something important. I looked up the definition of “homonym.” Read the rest of this entry »


When Should I Use a Semicolon?

The semicolon is perhaps the least understood punctuation mark. Rather than try to wrangle this mythical half-colon half-comma beast, some writers steer completely clear of it, but doing so can lead to comma splices,* which are just as bad as an improperly used semicolon. Other writers pepper their prose with semicolons because they think it lends sophistication. However, excessive use of semicolons can seem pretentious or overelaborate. A third category of writers are hesitant to use semicolons in their writing; they use them from time to time but never feel quite sure whether they’ve done so correctly.

Yet the rules are quite simple. There are two major uses of the semicolon… Read the rest of this entry »


“If” vs. “Whether”

This week, I’ve created a new category of blog post called “Advanced Grammar.” This category is for the things they don’t teach you in school, even in college. This category is also for controversial grammar-related issues or those that I can’t find a satisfactory answer to, some of which I’ve already written about here and here. Without further ado, let’s examine “if” and “whether.”

Both “if” and “whether” are meant to be used when discussing possibilities or uncertain events. There is, however, a slight distinction, and saying “if” when “whether” would be more appropriate is one of those colloquialisms (i.e., common phenomena in speech) that often makes its way into formal writing. Read the rest of this entry »


Extra Words


This week’s blog entry has to do with words that sometimes we just don’t need. I’m not talking about words that create redundancies, as in “PIN number” or “past history”; that’s a blog entry for another time. I’m talking about “filler” words. These words aren’t meaningless, but they’re not necessary either. Often, the writer’s meaning is completely clear without them. Read the rest of this entry »


Must-Have Proofreading Tools; or, What’s in My Purse

Note: This week I went to OfficeMax and stocked up on my favorite pens, so I thought I’d tell you about them and some other of my essentials. If you’re someone who interprets proofreader’s marks (maybe even mine), perhaps this will give you some insight into my process. If you’re a fellow proofreader and you’ve found something that works better for you, why not share? Leave a reply in the comments box at the end! Read the rest of this entry »