Author: Alison Dotson

Copy Editor’s Corner | Blogpostapostrophe

As copy editors, we work with words day in and day out, and we sometimes forget how confusing proofreading marks, punctuation, and style rules can be. Lately, a rash of people have been puzzled by a common mark, the apostrophe. Which direction does an apostrophe point? What...

A pinch of this, a dash of that

Dashes -- beloved by copy editors, often loathed by, well, everyone else. Hyphens (-) join words (good-looking, long-term). An em dash (—) is often used to add emphasis or set off thoughts mid-sentence, and can be an effective alternative to parentheses....

Comma Wars

Whether you call it a serial comma or the Oxford comma, mentioning it is bound to stir up a debate – and since Chicago Manual of Style recommends that extra comma in a series and the AP Stylebook does not, the sides often break into...

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.”

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.

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...