Julia Olech reports:
"Experts agree that incorrect grammar is very quickly becoming a modern-day epidemic. With the growth of social media and text messaging as well as the use of abbreviations, slang, and social media, it’s not surprising that an increased number of people sacrifice grammar in order to get their message across quicker.
The first step to improving your grammar skills is realizing what common errors you’re making...Often deemed unimportant, the comma is actually an extremely powerful grammar tool. Its sole purpose is to show where a reader can pause to take a breath and take time to understand the text. However, positioned in the wrong place, commas (especially Oxford commas) can completely alter the meaning of a sentence...Forgetting about regular commas can quite literally create extremely dangerous situations. For example, stumbling across a sign that says 'Hunters take caution while hunting pedestrians using walk trails' would probably cause you to run away or hide. That’s because it tells hunters to take caution while trying to shoot people walking by. Adding just one comma in the middle would protect many passers-by through providing a warning for hunters to be extra careful and not hurt anyone using the walking trails. Missing commas can even portray you as a serial killer or a cannibal! Regardless of your intentions, saying[,] 'We’re going to learn how to cut and paste kids!' would probably force many concerned parents to call the police. Good luck trying to explain to the officers that you weren’t planning on taking out a knife during a class. A comma at the end of that sentence wouldn’t just make it clear you were addressing children — it could keep you out of prison as well. The lack of punctuation can cause an endless list of uncomfortable situations. Imagine you were desperate to use the toilet in a restaurant, but the sign on the door said[,] 'Toilet ONLY for elderly disabled pregnant children.' It sounds like its use is restricted to children who are both elderly and pregnant, and disabled on top of it all. However, the addition of commas changes the meaning of the sign, allowing entry for the elderly, kids, disabled people, and pregnant people. Omitting commas in sentences may quickly turn pedestrians into criminals. After all, many people might be tempted to break the law if they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences. Writing 'No trespassing violators will be prosecuted' allows everyone free entry on the premises without any repercussions. Yet if that sentence had a comma, anyone trespassing is subject to the law...After seeing how omitting commas can put you in trouble, you may be tempted to put them everywhere just in case. Unfortunately, this grammar mistake can still lead to confusion...Let’s say you want to protest against seal hunting. You make your sign to show your support, but accidentally put a comma in the middle of it. This suddenly directs your message at baby seals, not hunters. More specifically, the sign would tell the little animals to stop partying, which differs a lot from banning acts of animal cruelty...We’ve all seen signs that warn people of wet floors — whether in a shop, hotel, restaurant, or on the street. However, these signs seem to be warning about slipping on wet people instead. Unless you were planning on informing others to be careful while walking on wet pedestrians because they’re slippery, add a comma to prevent people from falling on wet floors. It might also save you a lot of money on compensation should they sue you for inadequate warnings...The Oxford comma is arguably the most controversial grammar rule — and it divides most English speakers. Regardless of how you feel about it, adding it at the end of a list of two or more can make a great difference in how others understand you...A misplaced Oxford comma may even cost companies millions of dollars. In 2018, a dairy company from Portland had to pay $5 million when it was sued by three of their lorry drivers for missed overtime payments. The men argued that they weren’t excluded from the extra payment as the law didn’t specify delivery drivers as exempt from it. This all could have been avoided if there was an Oxford comma in the state’s law, which stated that no overtime pay was required for staff involved in: 'the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution.'...The rule behind apostrophes is very simple. If you’re indicating possession (as in something belongs to someone) or contraction (like 'it’s' or 'won’t'), an apostrophe is a must. If you want to talk about something in its plural form, then avoid that punctuation mark at all costs. Otherwise, a shop sign that informs customers about weekend opening days should say[,] 'Open Sundays' (not 'Open Sunday’s') as it’s open every Sunday in the year. Similarly, a 'sports bar' is a place where you can go to drink beer and watch various sports games with your friends. Going to a 'Sport’s bar' wouldn’t really make sense unless the owner of the bar’s name is Sport. A grocery store should pride itself on selling 'fresh fruits and vegetables'[,] not 'fresh fruit’s and vegetable’s'[,] because apples and cucumbers can’t really be in possession of anything. It’s just a plural form to make it clear that the shop has more than one fresh fruit or vegetable in stock...Quotation marks are extremely useful when you’re quoting or referencing someone in your text. They allow you to talk about book and movie titles without confusion...However, placing them randomly in a normal sentence often undermines what you’re trying to say. That’s because misplaced quotation marks allow readers to take what you’re saying as a suggestion or sarcasm...Generally speaking, exclamation points are used to express heightened emotions, like anger or excitement. Most readers automatically perceive sentences with more than one exclamation point as angry shouting. Therefore, excessive use of exclamation points can be quite overwhelming and the meaning you’re trying to get through is likely to get lost...Interestingly, due to social media, the excessive use of exclamation points is being normalized. People feel the pressure to make sure their emotions are clear in plain text so they add multiple points at the end of their sentences. Suddenly, responding with[,] 'Sounds good' doesn’t portray as much excitement as[,] 'Sounds good!!!!!!!!' Similarly, 'You’re the best' wouldn’t be genuine without [five] exclamation marks at the end — because how do you tell someone what they mean to you if you can’t shout it out to them? Despite being more accepted on social media, remember to avoid using exclamation marks excessively in formal and academic writing...The English language loves to put multiple words together and turn them into contractions. They’re commonly used in everything from daily speech, to movies, newspapers, and even instructions. Contractions are created by swapping certain letters with an apostrophe. Knowing which letter to replace can seem difficult at first, but there’s only one simple rule you should follow to create them. If contractions are made of two separate words, then the apostrophe replaces any letters that aren’t a part of it. For example, 'you are' can easily be turned into 'you’re' — in this case you’re swapping the ‘a’ in “are” for an apostrophe. In 'does not,' it’s enough to replace ‘o’ with an apostrophe to create 'doesn’t.' Don’t worry if you find it difficult to understand at first. Many native English speakers themselves struggle to know how to use contractions — it’s especially visible on social media. It also seems that it’s the distinction between certain contractions and possessive pronouns that are the most difficult to differentiate. These include the constant battle between 'your' and 'you’re,' 'its' and 'it’s,' and 'their,' 'they’re,' and 'there.' Unfortunately, missing apostrophes can also result in a catastrophe. As they’re a necessity in contractions, omitting them can sometimes create a completely new word. For example, a simple 'we’ll' (we will) can quickly turn into a 'well,' 'she’d' (she would) into a 'shed,' or 'we’re' (we are) into 'were.' Luckily, this is only the case for a selected few contractions, which makes it a lot easier to remember...'You' is a possessive pronoun used to describe something that belongs to you...On the other hand, 'you’re' is a contraction of two words — 'you' and 'are.' It’s always used to describe a state of being and is usually followed by a verb that ends with -ing or an adjective to describe who you are. For example, 'you’re going home,' 'you’re shaking,' 'you’re annoying,' 'you’re funny.' It can function as both the contraction and separate entities[,] but it’ll still have the same meaning. People tend to mistake the two and use them interchangeably, despite the fact that they mean two completely different things. Whenever you find yourself unsure of which one to use, try to replace each 'your' and 'you’re' in your text with 'you are.' If it makes sense, then it’s definitely the latter you should use...Mixing 'it’s' with 'its' is another prevalent grammar mistake. It could stem from the fact that 'it' is used when talking about inanimate objects or ideas, which is much more abstract than talking about people. However, the 'it’s' vs. 'its' rule is just as easy to understand as 'your' vs. 'you’re.' 'Its' should be used when you’re talking about a possession or that something belongs to something else...'It’s' is a contraction of either 'it is' or 'it has,' depending on what you’re trying to say. To decide which one to use, check if you can replace it with 'it has' or 'it is.'...'They’re' is a contraction of two words that describe a state of being — 'they are.'...'Their,' just like 'your' and 'its,' is a possessive pronoun that shows something belongs to a group. It’s generally used in a plural form...but can sometimes be used when talking about someone whose gender you don’t know...Finally, 'there' points out a place far away from you. Essentially, 'there' works as an opposite of 'here,' for example[,] 'I left the book there.' Additionally, 'there' can be used to introduce a subject of a clause or a sentence, such as[,] 'There is my favorite person!'...Making spelling mistakes is arguably a part of human nature. As annoying as it can be for the person misspelling a word, these errors usually become the topic of jokes...Unfortunately, spelling mistakes can also be used by cybercriminals. So[-]called typosquatting (or URL hijacking) is a common form of cyber attack that targets people who misspell a site address in their web browser. As these errors happen quite often, hackers started creating malicious websites mimicking URL names. These look-alike sites are set up to gain a visitor’s trust and collect their personal information, such as Social Security Numbers, bank account details, or credit card [credentials. Typosquatting] can even lure its targets into various fraud cycles by displaying believable error messages about their devices. The unsuspecting victim then follows through with the pop-up message that allows hackers to infect their device with various types of malware. To avoid becoming a victim of typosquatting, pay extra attention to the URLs you input in your web browser. While most of the time the wrong URL won’t work, you shouldn’t risk your personal safety by accidentally misspelling anything...Proper punctuation and spelling make a difference in clear and concise communication. However, grammar is so much more than just correctness — it’s an art in and of itself that allows us, as humans, to freely express how complex our minds are. Unfortunately, it’s also an art that an increasing number of people tend to dismiss as unimportant and unnecessary. Yet studies show that grammar still has a big impact on people’s lives, especially in professional settings...Profiles with a few or no errors performed significantly better within the job market and were offered higher positions than those who displayed poor grammar. Professionals who use proper grammar are also more likely to continuously look for new challenges and opportunities for professional growth. Meanwhile, those with poor grammar skills are more likely to settle for the same position for a longer period of time. Fewer grammar errors could also be linked to more promotions. People with better grammar climbed the career ladder a lot quicker than others, even if they had the same level of education. That’s because employers judge your intellect, analytical skills, and attention to detail through your grammatical abilities. Too many errors, however small, will make people perceive you as lazy and sloppy. Not to mention that bigger errors will undermine your credibility and make people more reluctant to believe anything you say...Analyzing written text is one of the best ways to improve your grammar skills. The visual representation of actual grammatical rules will make it easier for you to understand and remember them. Apart from enforcing proper grammar use, reading helps with correct sentence structure and your writing fluency. If you’re just starting out with learning proper grammar, stick to easy texts like children’s books. You’ll be able to increase the difficulty level as your grammar skills develop...Another great way to improve your skills is listening to how other people speak. Try to hear how people structure their sentences and where they pause. You don’t just have to listen to people you know[,] either — any conversation around you or even watching an English movie will benefit you. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn just from hearing others speak...Playing games stimulates your brain. Doing so to learn or master English provides you with a more entertaining way of studying. Various online grammar platforms (like Free Rice or Games To Learn English) encourage you to practice your skills through a multitude of different games aimed at learning different grammar rules...Whenever you write, always check for any mistakes by reading out loud. Actually saying the sentences will allow you to hear the errors as they happen and correct them. Pay extra attention to where you need to pause to take a breath or when sentences are too long and complicated to understand. This is something even expert English writers do as mistakes can easily be missed if you’re just skimming through a text...Your phone can be your greatest tool for maintaining good grammar. App stores offer a vast choice of apps that help you develop proper use of the English language, such as Duolingo or Johnny Grammar Word Challenge. Some correct your text as you write, provide educational games, or even offer quick lessons on various grammar rules...Finally, it might be a good idea to enroll in additional English classes. It’ll give you a great opportunity to ask questions, practice with other students, and use newly-learned skills in various situations. English tutors are also able to spot any existing mistakes in your grammar and explain to you how to fix them. Going to a class can give you a massive confidence boost to actively practice English every day on your own...In many situations, people are likely to make assumptions about you based on your grammar skills. A single email, business letter, job application, or even a post on social media may make you look extremely smart or quite uneducated. Luckily, it’s entirely up to you which impression you’re going to make. Regardless of your current grammar skills, you can always grow and improve them with practice and effort."
Mary Cullen reports:
"In all business writing, the audience is the top consideration. Who you are writing for will determine how you write your email. The reader will determine the tone, formality, and content of the communication. Your email’s reader may be your colleague, client, or supervisor. Each reader will have a different background, project knowledge, and priorities. You can use project acronyms with a colleague who has the same deep project knowledge as you do. Those same acronyms will be confusing to an executive who needs an update for budget forecasting. With your audience at the forefront, you will always write a more effective email. The audience includes all the people included in the sender fields. This includes the To:, CC:[,] and BCC: fields[,] but [the] main focus should be on those in the To[:] field. Writing for the audience also means using these fields correctly. The ‘To:’ field is for the direct audience who needs to reply or take action from the email content. The ‘CC:’ field is for readers who need to receive the email conversation for reference or clarity, but do not need to take action nor reply. The ‘BCC:’ field is for the audience who only needs to see the initial email and none of the later chain of replies. Incorrect usage of the sender fields is a common business email mistake. It occurs when the audience and their roles are not thoughtfully considered. Use the [‘]B[CC:’] field very judiciously. Often it's best to forward an email separately, with a brief statement on why you're sending this information...An email must have a purpose. And it must have only one purpose. This email practice is called the ‘one thing rule’. Covering multiple actions in one email can cause confusion and inefficiency. One email should not include both client report revision notes and a scheduling question for the quarterly meeting. This scenario calls for two separate emails. By limiting emails to one thing, the email is easier for the recipient to understand, process[,] and act upon. This clarity increases understanding and productivity. In practice, we sometimes have to ask for several pieces of information related to the same topic. In this case, use a numbered list to clarify for your reader that the request has components. This will help your reader respond easily and ensure you receive all the specifics you need...There is a tendency to over-communicate by email. While email is efficient and provides an electronic [paper trail], not all communication should occur over email. Ask yourself: 'Is this email really necessary?' Perhaps a quick phone call or a ping on the company messenger is more appropriate. If you’re expecting a lot of back-and-forth on the topic, a short conversation can eliminate a lengthy email chain. Choose the right channel to send information. Email is great, but it's one channel...Email can be used in many scenarios but is not always appropriate. If you are delivering bad news, do so in person or buffer the email thoughtfully. An email is impersonal and is difficult to [use to] convey empathy or compassion. If you must write a business apology email[,] follow these rules. Sensitive information sent by email runs the risk of being accidentally shared. There are plenty of cases of email mishaps, ranging from funny to serious. Whether the information is personal contact or personal opinion, consider whether it’s appropriate for an email. If you wouldn’t want it accidentally shared, be very thoughtful about how it is sent in the first place. If you are unsure if an email is appropriate, ask yourself if you'd be comfortable with that email being projected in a meeting. Attending the meeting are your boss, all your future bosses, and your mother. If it passes this test, then send it. If not, there is likely something that is not appropriate...The volume of email we receive and send can sometimes diminish our motivation to write an effective business email. Consider the four key questions when preparing an email. Write it in a way that is concise yet clearly conveys the information and request to the reader. Your reader, and their inbox, will appreciate it."
Barbara Bean-Mellinger reports:
"While every individual magazine, newspaper and online website has at least one editor who is responsible for that publication, an editorial director's job has a broader scope. The position may involve overseeing several publications or websites -- or a combination of the two -- as well as books and any other materials the parent company publishes...The editorial director is an executive who works with other executives and senior management to plan the overarching vision that encompasses all of the company's publications. This includes the short-term and long-term goals for the parent company and the individual publications, websites and divisions, as well as the coverage, target audience and tone for each. The editorial director conveys this information to the editors of each publication, site or division. In some cases the editorial director may be the editor of some of the publications...Although each publication and website has its own purpose and audience, the editorial director makes sure they share certain qualities determined by management. It could be a similar look, layout or tone. Sometimes the editorial director is involved in hiring writers and photographers, or in setting policies such as submissions guidelines or editorial style across all of the publications and websites...It's the editorial director's responsibility to ensure that the quality of each publication and website meets the standards set by senior management. Often, a board of directors -- made up of industry experts and scholars -- sets the direction for each entity, and it's up to the editorial director to make sure those guidelines are met. The editorial director may not review every issue before it's published; that's the editor's job. Over time, however, the editorial director can assess how well each is meeting its goals and serving its audience...In the case of a book publisher, the editorial director supervises editors, each of whom is expected to acquire a certain number of book titles per year. Setting the guidelines outlining the types of manuscript ideas editors should seek is part of the job, as is approving titles and authors editors have chosen. The editorial director also prepares and administers the budget and finds funding for titles if necessary...Editorial directors typically have bachelor's or more advanced degrees in English, journalism or a related field, plus direct experience as editors of publications, websites or books. They have keen interest in the English language and grammar, and keep current on media and publishing trends. Successful editorial directors must be detail[-]oriented, organized, adept at prioritizing tasks, and able to delegate appropriate responsibilities to editors and assistants."
A.J. Andrews reports:
"Microsoft Office Document Imaging offers your business a way to edit text from scanned and online-faxed documents stored in a Tagged Image File Format. TIFF files are a popular format for transferring scanned and faxed documents to PCs, enabling you[r] business to receive files via email and edit the text with applications such as MODI. However, you must retrieve the TIFF file and edit its text in a Microsoft word processing program, such as Word...Click the Start orb followed by 'All Programs.' Select 'Microsoft Office.'...Select 'Microsoft Tools' from the drop-down menu. Click 'Microsoft Office Document Imaging.'...Click 'File' and 'Open' on the menu. Browse your computer for the Microsoft Document Imaging file you will edit...Click the imaging file you will edit to highlight it and click the 'Tools' tab. Select 'Recognize Text Using OCR' from the Tools menu...Click 'View' followed by 'Select Arrow Icon.'...Left-click the mouse and drag the cursor over the text you will edit to highlight it. Click 'Edit' followed by 'Copy.'...Open Microsoft Word and open a blank document...Click 'Edit' followed by 'Paste.' Your text from the Microsoft Document Imaging file is ready for editing...MODI was included with Microsoft Office 2007 and earlier. Now it's part of the free Microsoft SharePoint Designer. You can download the MODI component of SharePoint Designer without having to download the rest of the suite (see Resources).”
Jonathan Rosenfeld reports:
"Electronic commerce (e-commerce) law governs commerce, trade, and sales. This field of cyberspace law deals with issues such as security, contracts, and human resources. The manufacture of products and their sale can also fall under e-commerce law. Security laws protect consumers and providers of goods and services as well as contractual parties. A section of e-commerce law that arises from contract formation deals with the liability of Internet providers for outages, which can be substantially damaging to contracting parties. Human resources are subject to laws designed to ensure fair hiring practices. Merchandising is also a part of e-commerce law. Product and service providers, as well as consumers, can benefit from learning about legal issues and protections governing online commerce...Cybercrime law encompasses issues such as network intrusion (hacking) and other crimes that take place online. Hacking may be the most publicized cybercrime, and things like malicious viruses and the use of encryption to contribute to or cover up a crime are covered by cybercrime law. There are laws against fraud and identity theft, and some of the most difficult free expression issues are also covered in cybercrime law. Some of these are obvious, such as laws against child pornography and regulation of pornography that is not intrinsically illegal. Bullying is rapidly becoming an issue in the area of cybercrime, as online bullying behavior becomes more virulent. Cybercrime may be one of the most important areas of cyberspace law for everyone to understand...Freedom of expression as it applies to cyberspace law is a very controversial subject. Although free speech is a right in America, there must be a law against some of the most hurtful things that can happen on the Internet. It can be very difficult to draw the line between free speech and harmful activities. U.N. guidelines have been set to forbid activity when it impinges on human rights. According to Frank La Rue, who has served as the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of expression, 'Expression such as child pornography; incitement to genocide; advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence; and incitement to terrorism are all prohibited under international law.'...Intellectual property in cyberspace is a burgeoning area of law. As more illegally reproduced documents and images make the rounds on the Internet, copyright law is particularly important to understand. Copyright law protects materials by making it illegal to reproduce someone else's work. It also prevents the distribution of the copyrighted work, public display of the material, and public performance of the work. Patented inventions and trademarks are protected as well...Privacy in cyberspace law means that people have the right to decide what is done with their personal information. This is largely disregarded, as many do not take the time to discover what is done with their information on the Internet. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, put information online for everyone to see, often with the consent of those who post on these platforms. Privacy is also an issue with purchasing goods and services online, as some suppliers sell personal information to other businesses, resulting in large amounts of spam. Insecure transmissions over the Internet, logs of emails, data trails, and Web page tracking are all privacy hazards that people meet with online every day. Another complex privacy issue is that of government surveillance...It can sometimes be difficult to avoid getting into situations online that could bring legal entanglements, but the most important thing to remember is that the laws of the real world apply online. If you're not allowed to do something in the 'real world' without ramifications, chances are good that you're not allowed to do it online, either."
Sam Ashe-Edmunds reports:
"Book editors and newspaper editors might have similar job titles, but their roles are not the same. They fashion content for different audiences, work with writers to meet different goals and meet deadlines on the opposite end of the time spectrum. If you are interested in pursuing a career as an editor, it is important to understand the difference between working for newspapers and book publishers...Book editors help writers create works that fit into the publishing company’s brand. Whether she is editing nonfiction or fiction, a book editor must understand the target audience and serve its needs. For example, this might be done by helping a writer make fictional characters more relevant to specific readers by adding cultural references or certain speaking patterns. A non-fiction book editor might work to highlight information that’s important to the company’s target reader rather than what interests the writer. A newspaper editor, on the other hand, has limited space to work with. Most articles are short and to the point, so the editor must ensure that reporters only emphasize the most important facts. Many newspaper editors develop an area of expertise, or a 'beat,' so they are better able to ensure writers deliver the right content...Depending on the type of content, an editor helps shape the direction of a story or an article. Fiction book editors help writers create believable characters by introducing personality traits and maintaining continuity of these traits throughout the book. They help readers visualize scenes by ensuring the writer delivers descriptive prose. A newspaper editor eliminates information that doesn’t get to the heart of a story, even though it might be interesting, based on the limited space he has. Newspaper editors ask writers and reporters questions that readers might have and suggest sources or additional content that will make the article stronger. Newspaper editors also check facts to ensure they are correct. In addition, they work to tighten up long introductions and work to enforce the inverted pyramid style of writing, which requires that the article present the most important information first...Book editors work with writers over the course of months or even years, depending on the value of the writer to the company. Because book writing is such a creative process, editors give writers longer deadlines to allow them to deal with temporary periods of writer’s block. Newspaper editors often work on stories during the day that will go to the printer that evening. The process is even shorter if there is a web version of the story that needs to appear sooner. Editors stay in close touch with writers during the reporting process to get updates and ensure the writer is on the right track. In many instances, newspaper editors make final edits without showing them to the writer before the article is published...Line editing is the process of making each sentence as strong as possible. This includes catching spelling and grammatical errors, eliminating run-on sentences, substituting words or phrases and making the sentence flow naturally in a paragraph. Book editors are at liberty to make sentences more creative, introducing more adjectives and adverbs, while newspaper editors often try to make sentences simpler, relying primarily on nouns and verbs."
Writers Republic reports:
"If there is one aspect of the book publishing process that you should really be careful of[,] it is the self-editing process. This is because readers could be very intense and picky about writing errors. And one mistake has the potential to derail your book. So before you have your manuscript published, you should make sure that every aspect of your manuscript is as perfect as possible. So you will need to know how to properly self-edit your book...When writing sentences[,] it always pays to make them as short and concise as possible. This will make your writing more straightforward and clear. Remember, nothing annoys readers more than overly complicated word play. So if you want to give your writing a sense of clarity, keep it short and sweet...[I]f you read your work aloud, you will be able to hear your writing and notice any potential mistakes you may have committed. So it is always a good idea to read your work aloud after every writing session. That way, you can have a more thorough and effective way of spotting potential mistakes in your work...[I]t always pays to be as organized as possible. Try to edit your work in various stages and types. For example, you just finished writing a few paragraphs of your manuscript. And now is the time to edit your work. But if you just jump into the self-editing process without any plan or system, you will get bogged down by the amount of editing you need to do. So try [to] be as organized as possible[. ]Categorize your mistakes, according to type, such as spelling, grammar, storyline, punctuation, etc. By being as organized as possible, you will be able to edit your manuscript more thoroughly...One bad habit that some newbie writers have is that they edit their work while they are still writing. It is a bad habit because you already have your hands full writing content. And if you add the task of checking your work for errors at the same time, it can prove quite a challenge. And you would most likely commit more mistakes in the long run. So if you are going to edit your work, you should finish your content first. That way you can fully concentrate on both tasks more effectively...[N]o matter how good a writer you are, there is still a chance that you will commit a mistake or two. Let’s chalk it all up to human error. This is why you will need all the help you can get. And one great way to minimize errors is using an efficient editing tool. These are writing programs that will help you spot writing errors more effectively and consistently. And lucky for you[,] there are a myriad of editing tools to choose from. All in all, if you want your writing to be as perfect as possible, it always pays to get an efficient editing tool."
Freelancer's dapper007 reports:
"If a professional editor works on your writing, make sure the person uses the change-tracking function in Microsoft Word or the word-processing program he or she works in. When you receive the edited version, activate the feature and study each change the editor has made. If you don’t know why the editor made a particular revision, consult writing or editing handbooks or online resources and study the issue until you understand it and know how to avoid making similar errors. If you don’t understand the issue, ask the editor for clarification...Read print and online writing and editing resources...Find books and other websites with editing exercises. In place of some leisure reading, browse writing and style guides and grammar and usage handbooks[,]...but otherwise, find out which guide your employer uses and stick to it. If you simply need a resource to help you edit posts for your own blog, choose your own resources. In any case, keep such resources handy and consult them often...Take one or more editing courses through an accredited continuing-education program. Some programs offer online courses, but you might get more out of an experience in a physical classroom with real-time interaction with the instructor and fellow students, so attend a real-world class if possible...It’s easy to succumb to the temptation to edit at a reading pace. But editing must be slow and deliberate. To train yourself to work slowly, read content aloud, or pause after each punctuation mark, or read from the end to the beginning, sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph. Also, if you’re editing your own writing, delay editing for a day or two so that you’re revising with a fresh perspective...If you’re asked to provide both structural editing and mechanical editing for a project, or you’re editing your own work, divide these diverse tasks into two phases. On the first pass, focus on big-picture aspects: organization, narrative flow and sequence, and, for fiction, setting and characterization and character motivation. Then, revise to improve grammar, syntax, usage, and style. Better yet, take a couple of passes for each phase, but take a break between each pass. These strategies will help you do a better job with both aspects of editing...Just as keeping yourself on a diet of excellent prose helps you be a better writer, it will also aid you in editing by modeling effective word choice and phrase, sentence, and paragraph structure. You needn’t exclusively consume top-notch writing, but include plenty of it in your reading material."
Judith Humphrey reports:
"Your job title isn’t the only thing that determines how influential you are...Overusing certain weak verbs can make you sound weaker, too. They can undercut your ability to inspire others and suggest to listeners...that you aren’t really sure of yourself...Who doesn’t use the expression 'I think['?] Your coworker might say, 'I think we should move ahead with this project,' or your boss may tell you, 'I think you’ve got a good idea.' Harmless enough, right? The only trouble is that 'think' doesn’t sound definitive. It subtly saps the power of whatever follows it. 'Think' derives from an Old English word ('þencan' or 'thencan') meaning to 'conceive in the mind, consider, meditate.' In other words, you’re subtly suggesting that you’re still considering the position you espouse–that you’re not sure of it. In ordinary conversation, 'I think' is a throwaway phrase that won’t even register on most people, but you may want to steer clear of it at work. While it’s fine to mutter occasionally...you’re better off axing any prefatory phrase in professional settings. Say, 'You’ve got a good idea' or, 'That’s an excellent proposal.' If you want a replacement verb, try, 'I’m confident your plan will work!'...When your boss says, 'I need this report as soon as possible,' she undercuts herself. Using 'need' conjures up a feeling of dependency on the part of the speaker, rather than of obligation and responsibility on the part of the team...Simply put, 'I need' makes you sound needy. To project more confidence, swap it with firm but polite phrases like, 'Please have this report to me by next Friday.'...'Want' is really similar to 'need': It suggests the speaker is wanting or lacking in some way. If a boss tells a subordinate, 'I want you to improve the quality of your work,' that statement suggests the boss is not getting what she wants–which maybe she isn’t. But the better way to get what you want is to simply set forth facts: 'Your work on this report needs to be higher quality.' That puts the onus on the employee. Similarly, if you tell your boss, 'I want a raise,' you’ve made an emotional appeal and signaled your lack of confidence. It’s better to bring together a verb of conviction ('I believe' or 'I’m convinced') and your reasons: 'I believe my pay and performance during the last year make a strong case for a raise.'...'Guessing' conveys tentativeness. I once heard a CEO tell analysts, 'Our best guess is that our profit for year’s end will be marginally better than last year’s.' There were so many ways he could have reframed that more confidently: 'We expect our profit for the year to be ahead of last year’s,' or, 'Our results should surpass last year’s.' If you aren’t sure of the results, that’s fine! Don’t lie or exaggerate. Rather than 'guess,' use the most confident expression you can...Leaders often begin statements with 'I hope': 'I hope we’ll get that sale' or, 'I hope you’ll be able to take on that assignment.' Rather than inspiring confidence, 'hope' has a prayer-like quality, suggesting that the speaker has little control over the outcome. What are some alternatives? Instead of saying you 'hope' that a team will bring in a client sale, tell them, 'I’m looking forward to a win,' or 'I know you’ll give it your all.' These statements are much more empowering. They show your confidence in what your team can already do, rather than subtly questioning their performance in the future...There’s no occasion in the workplace where conveying your indifference and inertia will improve your influence or authority. Instead, find something to express your passion for (even if it’s not the meeting experience itself): 'Yes, I’ll definitely be there–I want to hear what management has to say.' You may not think this matters when you’re talking to a teammate, but it does. News travels fast, and if the words you repeatedly use suggest a 'don’t really care' attitude, it’s only a matter of time before your reputation and influence begin to dip. Language is a powerful force in all your impromptu conversations. And because there are more chances to use them, the small words and phrases you resort to every day at work can have an outsized impact on your leadership ability. Cut these six verbs from your lexicon, and you’ll start to notice your power and confidence climb."
BBC Worklife reports:
"How much can a misplaced comma cost you? If you’re texting a loved one or dashing off an email to a colleague, the cost of misplacing a piece of punctuation will be – at worst – a red face and a minor mix-up. But for some, contentious commas can be a path to the poor house...[T]he slightest misstep in punctuating a clause in a contract can have massive unintended consequences. 'Punctuation matters,' says Ken Adams, author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. But not all punctuation is made equal: [C]ontractual minefields are not seeded with semicolons or em-dashes (here’s one: – ) waiting to explode when tripped over. 'It boils down to commas,' says Adams. 'They matter, and exactly how depends on the context.'...Commas in contracts link separate clauses in a non-definitive way, leaving their reading open to interpretation. While a full stop is literally that – a full and complete stop to one thought or sentence, and the signal of the start of another – commas occupy a linguistic middle ground, and one that’s often muddled. 'Commas are a proxy for confusion as to what part of a sentence relates to what,' Adams explains. The English language is fluid, evolving and highly subjective. Arguments have been fought over the value of so-called Oxford commas (an optional comma before the word 'and' or 'or' at the end of a list). There might be good arguments on either side of the debate, but this doesn’t work for the law because there needs to be a definitive answer: yes or no. In high-stakes legal agreements, how commas are deployed is crucial to their meaning. And in the case of Oakhurst Dairy against its delivery drivers, the Oxford comma is judged to have favoured the latter’s meaning. But just because you mean to say something, it doesn’t mean that a court will agree with you, says Jeff Nobles, a Texas-based appellate lawyer who was involved in an insurance case that hinged, in part, on the punctuation of a contract. According to Nobles, most US courts will say it doesn’t really matter what the parties subjectively intended; it’s the objective intent in the written terms of their contract. 'Punctuation sometimes will change the meaning of a sentence,' he says. Nobles represented an insurance company in a Texas Supreme Court case concerning insurance coverage for a worker who died on the job. Nobles argued successfully that punctuation mattered for a contractual indemnity provision, when the company tried to trigger coverage under its umbrella insurance policy after a subcontracted employee died on the job. It set a precedent in the state’s legal system, he believes. He says US courts have become increasingly textual – 'they’ve looked more and more at the words on the paper rather than the testimony of the people who used those words on the paper.' Yet arguments over commas have been raging for more than a century...In 1872, an American tariff law including an unwanted comma cost taxpayers nearly $2m (the equivalent of $40m today). The United States Tariff Act, as originally drafted in 1870, allowed 'fruit plants, tropical and semi-tropical for the purpose of propagation or cultivation' to be exempt from import tariffs. For an unknown reason, when revised two years later, a stray comma sneaked in between 'fruit' and 'plants'. Suddenly all tropical and semi-tropical fruits could be imported without any charge. Members of the US Congress debated the issue and the problem was fixed – but not before the New York Times bemoaned the use of 'An Expensive Comma.' It wouldn’t be the last such error. 'Contract language is limited and stylised,' says Adams. He compares it to software code: [D]o it right and everything works smoothly. But make a typo and the whole thing falls apart. When errors are introduced into legal documents, they’re likely to be noticed far more than in any other form of writing, he says. 'People are more prone to fighting over instances of syntactic ambiguity than in other kinds of writing.'...Of course, in some circumstances, those drafting contracts may want to introduce ambiguities. Getting different countries to sign up to the same principles can be challenging, particularly for climate change agreements. Early climate change conventions included this line: 'The Parties have a right to, and should, promote sustainable development.' The sentence ensures those signing the agreement have the ability to promote sustainable development – and should do so. But in its original draft, the second comma was placed after 'promote', not before it: 'The Parties have a right to, and should promote, sustainable development.' Some countries weren’t happy with the original wording because they didn’t necessarily want to be locked into promoting sustainable development. Moving the comma kept the naysayers happy while placating those who wanted stronger action. 'By being slightly creative with punctuation, countries can feel like their interests have been addressed,' explains Stephen Cornelius, chief advisor on climate change with the WWF, who has represented the UK and EU at UN climate change negotiations. 'You’re trying to get an agreement that people can substantially agree with.'...Such linguistic flexibility happens more often than you’d think. 'In diplomacy, even though you try to have a single agreement, it’s very common to change the meaning for different parties,' says climate change negotiator Laura Hanning Scarborough. 'You can use terms like ‘inter alia’, or ‘this includes, amongst other things’ to blur the lines to include anything. You can use commas as part of that, too. There are so many language tricks you use to appease people.' For most people, however, making sure that contracts are unambiguous is important. For that reason, it’s crucial to test contract language to breaking point by giving it to someone who will test its limits – someone who will read it in the most awkward, unhelpful way, says Tiffany Kemp, a commercial contracting trainer for the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management. One of the biggest cases battled over a comma was a dispute between two Canadian telecommunications companies. Rogers Communications and Bell Aliant fought a legal battle worth CAD$1m ($760,000) over a contract to replace utility poles across the country. The argument stemmed from a single sentence: 'This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.' The two sides argued that the comma after 'five (5) year terms' meant something different: Bell Aliant said that the single year’s notice of termination applied at any time, Rogers that it only applied after the first five-year term ended. This was important as Rogers had struck a great deal under their reading of the contract: [W]hen they signed a contract to lease the poles from Bell Aliant in 2002, they were paying just CAD$9.60 per pole. By 2004, the cost had nearly doubled. Bell Aliant, understandably, wanted to terminate the contract and renegotiate at the new, higher price. Rogers didn’t. Successive courts were equally uncertain about the agreement: Canada’s Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission first declared in favour of Bell Aliant in 2006; a year later, it changed its mind after consulting the French language version of the contract, which didn’t include the same ambiguity. This dispute wasn’t brought about by wilful ignorance, reckons Kemp. 'Sometimes there are genuinely different understandings,' she explains. 'That little comma was put in a place that you would put in a place for a breath if you’re reading it out loud.'...How do these misplaced or misused commas make their way into complicated contracts that have been drafted by professionals? Part of the problem, says Adams, is technology. 'Drafting contracts has long been a function of copying and pasting from precedent contracts, and that results in a kind of heedlessness, a detachment from the nitty[-]gritty of how you’ve expressed what you want to express in a contract,' he says. 'It’s easy to miss this sort of problem.' In one extreme example, a misplaced comma was at the heart of a death-penalty trial. Roger Casement, an Irish nationalist, was hanged in 1916 under the 1351 Treason Act. He had incited Irish prisoners of war being held in Germany to band together to fight against the British. The debate over whether Casement was guilty hinged on the wording of the 14th Century Treason Act and the use of a comma: [W]ith it, Casement’s actions in Germany were illegal; without it, he would get away with it. Despite Casement’s lead counsel’s assertion that 'crimes should not depend on the significance of breaks or of commas', and 'if a crime depended on a comma, the matter should be determined in favour of the accused, and not of the Crown', the court ruled that the comma mattered. Casement was found guilty and executed. Though today life and death doesn’t hinge on the use of commas – but big money, insurance policies and environmental agreements certainly do. For that reason, it’s important to carefully check any contracts we sign, the experts say – and that means not just dotting the Is and crossing the Ts but also making sure every comma is in the correct place. People sign contracts not because they’ve negotiated their meanings, but based on their own understanding of what they’re agreeing to, explains Nobles. Contracts written by lawyers on behalf of a business might have a different meaning than what the lay person understands. So it pays to pay attention. If a piece of punctuation seems out of place or introduces ambiguity, speak up. 'The purpose of a contract is to help people get the outcomes they both expected, and to know what they’re supposed to do and get from the other side,' says Kemp. 'If there’s a misunderstanding, you owe it to both of you to get it sorted out. Have the argument today, rather than tomorrow.' It could prevent a lot of pain in the future."
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.