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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Effective Writing

Definite Ideas About Definite and Indefinite Articles

Posted on Thursday, February 5, 2009, at 10:13 am

Take a look at this sentence from a restaurant review that was sent in by a reader: The restaurant operates with an efficiency and authority that defy the chaos in the pleasant but cramped room. Is it correct to use the indefinite article an in front of an abstract noun (efficiency)? If so, should we …

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Editing Tip

Posted on Friday, July 18, 2008, at 10:35 am

Let’s visit the terms editing, proofreading, and formatting. Focus on editing first, checking the content for cohesiveness, clarity, paragraph structure, and overall structure. When you’re satisfied with the content, focus on proofreading, looking for consistency in formatting, margins, text styles, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Finally, focus on formatting, ensuring consistency in the document’s appearance. Within …

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Using [sic] Properly

Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2007, at 11:17 pm

[Note that our discussion of this topic also has been updated as it applies to use in 2024.] Sic is a Latin term meaning "thus." It is used to indicate that something incorrectly written is intentionally being left as it was in the original. Sic is usually italicized and always surrounded by brackets to indicate …

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Dialogue Writing Tips

Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007, at 11:00 pm

The most common way to indicate a new speaker's dialogue is to start a new paragraph. Here is an example from my novel Touched: Rashan slouched into a nearby folding chair, not bothering to get one for Georgia. He moved a few braids from his forehead, but they fell back over his eyes. After a …

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Become a Better Writer Instantly, Part 1

Posted on Friday, September 1, 2006, at 9:55 pm

Here are some tricks of the editing trade that will make your writing look more polished instantly. Trick #1: Use concrete rather than vague language. Example of vague language: The weather was of an extreme nature. Example of concrete language: Thunderstorms tore open the sky, bringing a deluge of rain. Which sentence would make you …

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