Denise M Taylor

Writing Consultant I Editor I Proofreader I Teacher

It’s THAT time of year! Maybe you are reading this article because you are almost ready to have the final draft of your thesis or research paper proofread. A thesis represents many months, or even years, of research. You have put in the hard yards: read, researched, reviewed, revised, and carefully edited your thesis, checking that your arguments really get […]

These days, according to what I read, there is no doubt that the semicolon is considered old-fashioned and not commonly used in sentence construction. Editors and proofreaders have been known to be severely castigated by authors for adding a semicolon when copy-editing their manuscripts. I don’t use semicolons very often, but there are times when a semicolon is the perfect […]

Linking words, or a group of words within sentences, can be equated to the linking of hands to convey connectivity and cohesion. But the linking of certain words or phrases in a sentence using a ‘dash’ requires careful consideration. On many occasions I have had to explain the misuse of hyphens to act as parentheses—to enclose a word, phrase, or […]

From mums and dads, aunts and uncles, to queens and kings, princesses and princes—there is often confusion amongst writers: when to capitalise and when not to capitalise these names? I am frequently asked questions such as: ‘Why did you change the capitalisation of ‘Dad’ in the sentence to lower case?’ The simplified answer I can give to this query is […]

Are you gagging for another English­­­­ grammar quiz? If so, sharpen your red pencil and put on your proofreading thinking-cap! There is more than one error relating to grammar and punctuation in each of the following ten sentences. Can you spot them?  Each grammar ‘issue’ has been covered in the last few articles written for ‘The Art of Writing & […]

In the English language, the apostrophe has a lot to do with possession and omission. Its (not It’s!) misuse in punctuation is a hot topic . . . for editors and proofreaders, and anyone else who cares. The trend today is to say or write something in the briefest way possible—social media has made sure of that. So using the […]

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate? That is the question . . . The truth is, when trying to decide whether a hyphen needs to join two words, quite often grammar rules are not black and white, and in many instances you can decide for yourself. In general, British dictionaries and publishers are more inclined to hyphenate words than their […]

Are you in the mood for a quiz? If so, sharpen your red pencil! There are errors, or improvements to be made, relating to grammar, punctuation and sentence structure in the following ten sentences. Can you spot them?  Each ‘issue’ has been covered in the first ten articles written for ‘The Art of Writing & Editing’ series. Answers are provided […]

The ellipsis (. . .) and the em dash (—) are two of my favourite members of the punctuation family. If I have to choose one that I value more than the other, then it would have to be the ellipsis. Why? Because those three dots allow me to leave out superfluous text from a quotation; but, they are even […]

Writers control the pace and mood of their writing with punctuation; it’s an art. Commas, colons and semi-colons break a sentence into units of breath, offering the reader small chances to pause. But there is more to consider. Minimalist writer, Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), used commas and semi-colons sparingly to create tension and maintain engagement with the narrative. Consider the final […]