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Copy Editing

Top Five Grammatical/Editing Errors on Blogs

Due to the popularity of our previous articles “The Top Five Grammatical/Editing Errors that Make Readers Cringe” I have decided to write a similar type of article, this time focusing on web publication.  If your blog or website is full of grammatical errors, what does that say in regards to your professionalism?  Just because your work is being published on a website and not necessarily in a book, does not mean that you should become relaxed when it comes to your web publications.

Let's look at what I consider to be some of the top grammar errors that haunt Web pages:


1. Periods and commas: do they go inside or outside of quotation marks?

Correct: She said, "Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks, just like this."
Incorrect: This is "incorrect", because the comma is outside of the quotation marks. It should be: This is "correct," because the comma is . . .

2. E-mail vs. email

E-mail stands for electronic mail. According to Mirriam Webster, e-mail should contain the hyphen, and it doesn't have to be capitalized (E-mail).  The same applies to junk e-mail.

This is a fairly common mistake, and most of your audience will likely be searching Google with “email.”  Therefore, if email is one of your keywords, you might need to include both e-mail, and email.

Finding a Legitimate Book Editor

Book EditorOne of the common characteristics of the "self publishing industry" is that ... EVERYONE is an EDITOR. Now quite obviously not everyone is, but anyone who has ever written a book, or part of a book, published or not, or an article or two, published or not, or sent out a letter with their Christmas Cards will all claim to be editors. Some of them truly are and some are not. Trying to find a good book editor is often like the old Television show "Whats My Line" where, by asking a series of questions, you finally figured out what the true identity of the individual was. This same process often needs to be applied to finding a good editor.

You can sometimes figure out how good an editor is by their price, but a better indicator is what their references look like, and can you contact them. One of the big problems with selecting an editor is that many authors who finish their piece of writing, then turn it over to an editor, will often never re-read that writing after the editor has returned it. This can be a fatal problem for the author because in the editing, the editor way misinterpret something and by even slightly changing a word or sentence structure, the whole point of the writing can be lost.

In the finding of an editor there will be a whole line to choose from. There will be very experienced "word knobs" who will correct absolutely every sentence and paragraph to make the writing perfect in every way. On the low side will be the editor who can barely spell ... well, actually, often they can't spell at all, never mind try to fix grammar.

The Top Five Grammatical/Editing Errors that Make Readers Cringe

Grammer and Spelling errorsThere are mistakes that can detract from your credibility as a writer and book author. While we all hope what we have to say is more important than some silly grammatical error, the truth is some people will not continue to read our books or recommend them to friends if you make dumb mistakes when you write.

Here are five mistakes to avoid when blogging and writing web copy

1.    There/their-  there (usually a place),  their (usually possessive)
 I saw a deer over there in the forest.
The kids were playing in their sandbox.

2.    A lot - It is TWO words.  There are a lot of jellybeans in that container.

3.    Your/you’re- your (possessive) you are= you’re (contraction).  When deciding which you are supposed to use, think “Should it say “you are?”  If so, then use you’re, NOT your.  You’re running very quickly.  Your phone is ringing.

4.    Supposed.  It is not suppost.  I’m supposed to meet my mother after school.

5.    It’s/its- It’s (contraction-it is or it has), its (possessive pronoun).
Think about what you are trying to say, and whether “it is” can be substituted.  If it can, then the contraction is likely. It’s great my hairdresser is so fabulous.   Its mouth is filled with sharp teeth.

Copy Editing

Many authors find the most difficult part of completing their manuscript is editing their work. Copyediting and proofreading your own work can be daunting process and even the greatest authors overlook small mistakes.

We recommend some form of editing for any book you are planning to have printed.

There are many copy editing services available out there. They can really help you put the finishing touches on your manuscript and free you up to do the more important work, like writing the next book.

Most copy editing services will offer at least three levels of service. They will roughly fit into the following categories:

Proof Reading 

Proof reading will give your manuscript that final once over, before it goes to print and covers the following areas:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation
  • Hyphenation

Basic Copyediting

This service is meant to help improve the readability of an author’s book and usually includes:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation
  • Hyphenation
  • Suggestions to improve syntax
  • Suggestions to improve word choice
  • We may recommend light structural changes

Advanced Editing 

This level of copyediting may be required for a special reference or technical book where critical language and structure are required:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation
  • Hyphenation
  • Suggestions to improve syntax
  • Suggestions to improve word choice
  • We may recommend light structural changes
  • Suggestions to improve consistency of information and ideas.
  • Suggestions to improve consistency in the characters and/or time line


How the proofreading/editing process works

To start, find at least a couple editing service you like and send them details on what you need, the number of words in the manuscript, and request a price quotation. By contacting a few different services, you can get a idea of the price range.

Most editing services prefer manuscripts in Word, WordPerfect and RTF format, as these formats work the best for editing purposes. If your manuscript is NOT in one of the above formats, make sure to let the copy editing provider know BEFORE you send it to them, and tell us what type of file you are sending and the version of the software it was created in. 

Important Note: If you are sending a manuscript that has been created in an older version of software no longer available, in order to edit file they  may need to use a newer version of the same software, which means they will create a new edited file. Under some circumstances this new version file may NOT be able to be read by your older version software, which means you may be required to upgrade your own software in order to read edited files.

Is Editing Book Software any Good?

In the process of getting books created for our clients, the topic of manuscript editing comes up frequently. We often get asked the question, is the software that is available for editing manuscripts any good? Our answer is this, on the whole most is pretty good but like anything thing, some are good, some are not so good. Then we get asked the question is the editing book software as good as a person editing? Again, our response is, well, it depends on who the “person” is that is editing. We have seen some pretty horrific editing  jobs come through from people who supposed to be “editors”, so it can work both ways.

Let’s take a moment to look at software based editing tools. First of all, there are not all that many to choose from, so that helps to make our decisions and evaluations less complicated. In many instances the issue is not how well editing book software works, the issue is about the author, such as, are they a competent a writer?  Let me explain. We frequently are contacted by individuals who have tremendous content for books, these are very bright, talented people but their writing skills are not such that this information can be easily put into book form. Some of these people are those who use English as a second language or who, when they grew up were not exposed to some of the rigours of using the English language. They have a great story to tell but their writing skills and ideas need more work to get it into an understandable state.