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Copy Editor’s Corner


01 Apr Copy Editor’s Corner | Dare to compare, correctly

What’s the difference between “compare with” and “compare to,” anyway? Let’s compare the two phrases. According to The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, “To compare to is to point out or imply resemblances between objects regarded as essentially of a different order; to compare with is mainly to point out differences between objects regarded as essentially of the same order.” And The Associated Press Stylebook offers this example: “She compared her work for women’s rights to Susan B. Anthony’s campaign for women’s suffrage.” To simplify both entries from these style gods, use “compared with” to point out a difference and “compared to” to point out a similarity. It’s much likelier that you’ll use “compared with” in a piece than “compared to.”
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04 Feb Copy Editor’s Corner | Grammar vs. Style

What’s the difference between grammar and style? It’s similar to the difference between a dictate and a suggestion -- when a copy editor marks a change because it’s grammatically incorrect, you really should make the change. Style is more subjective, but for the best copy possible, adhering to consistent style is important. People often treat copy editors as human dictionaries or style books and approach them with questions like “Which is right, e-mail or email?” The answer is that neither is wrong because this is a matter of style, not grammar. However, most publications follow one style guide (and magazines and newspapers usually follow the Associated Press Stylebook, or AP style), and that resource likely has a preference.
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12 Nov Copy Editor’s Corner | A Blog Post on Literally

It’s literally the worst thing to ever happen to the English language. Merriam-Webster added a second definition under its literally entry, recognizing that the original -- a synonym for "actually" -- is no longer the only definition, and certainly not the only accepted one. Now, when...

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03 Sep Copy Editor’s Corner | Less vs. Fewer

When’s the last time you read an ad that was several paragraphs or even a few sentences long? The most effective advertising -- especially in magazines, websites and billboards -- is short and to the point. Ads often forego proper grammar in favor of punchy, clever...

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14 May Copy Editor’s Corner | More Than vs. Over

Copy editors are taught that over should be reserved for spatial relationships, as in “The cow jumped over the moon,” and more than be used with numerals. Josh’s salary didn’t increase by over 5 percent, it increased by more than 5 percent. But this guideline needn’t...

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Alphabet Blocks ADVERB

26 Mar Copy Editor’s Corner | Adverbs Badverbs

How many times has someone “corrected” you when you’ve said, “I feel bad,” telling you it should be “I feel badly”? When people are overcorrected they begin to feel a bit paranoid that they’re never right, and that it’s never okay to say “I feel bad”...

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29 Jan Copy Editor’s Corner | Like vs. As

>Every once in a while, copy editors must decide whether to make a sentence grammatically correct or to let it slide for the sake of readability. When like is used where as should be, a copy editor may decide to leave it. When we do stick...

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08 Jan Copy Editor’s Corner | Who vs. Whom

If you want to strike up a spirited debate at your next happy hour, try correcting someone who uses who instead of whom. Some will ask, “Is whom ever right?” Yes, but it is used so rarely nowadays that few people understand when it is actually...

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