Entries by Leslie

Stylistic Polish: Sentence Rhythm

Good writing is not only grammatical and clear; each sentence has a lively rhythm that draws readers along and keeps them interested. We saw in a previous post how to fix a common problem of parallelism in a series. The original, incorrect sentence was Thyme is low growing, fragrant, and has small purple-pink flowers. This […]

Punctuation Quick Tips: The Semicolon

  The semicolon (;) is to many writers a mysterious squiggle. Some avoid it entirely for fear of using it incorrectly, while others tentatively try it out without really understanding its purpose. Writers and editors talking about the semicolon use words like rhythmic, elegant, lyrical, and subtle. It’s powerful punctuation, to be sure, but what’s […]

Punctuation Quick Tips: The Colon

The colon (:) is one of the trickier punctuation marks. You can think of the colon in a sentence as similar to an equal sign: what follows the colon defines, explains, or expands on what came before. One flower stands above all others in poetry, prose, and legend: the rose. Some seed-starting mixes contain coir […]

Grammar Quick Tips: Parallel Series

Thyme is low growing, fragrant, and has small purple-pink flowers. Did you spot the error? The three items in the series aren’t parallel. We can test this by reading the sentence with each item alone. Thyme is | low growing Thyme is | fragrant Thyme is | has small purple-pink flowers This is a common […]

Finding a Niche

One of the great pleasures of being a freelance editor is working on a wide range of subjects. Last fall, I went from cultural anthropology to human sexuality to criminal conspiracy to Canadian history. The variety keeps boredom at bay and expands my mind (and provides plenty of material for both small talk and deep […]

Lists: The Editor’s Essential Tools

Editors make lists. Good editors make lots of lists and refer to them constantly. Two kinds of lists are essential: the style sheet and the checklist. The style sheet lists choices that have been made for a given project—preferred terms and their preferred spelling, when to spell out numbers, documentation style, and so on. Even […]