Denise M Taylor

Writing Consultant I Editor I Proofreader

Maybe you are reading this article because you’re almost ready to have the final draft of your thesis or academic book/research paper edited, copyedited or proofread. You have put in the hard yards: read, researched, written, reviewed, revised, rewritten and carefully edited, checking that your arguments and research really get you, logically and clearly, from the aims to the conclusions. […]

Although ‘principle’ and ‘principal’ sound the same, as do ‘past’ and ‘passed’, they are often used incorrectly in a sentence. These two pairs of words are called homophones — two or more words that sound the same (identical pronunciation), but have different meanings and sometimes different spellings. The term homophone comes from Greek ‘homo-’ (same) and ‘-phone’ (sound), so the […]

There’s no doubt that editing improves the quality of your writing. Self-editing your work, probably many times, comes first. Then comes the decision whether or not to engage an experienced editor. Editors have a demonstrable knowledge of language, written expression, content development and writing styles. They share a common goal: to help authors of fiction and non-fiction, academics, business managers, […]

Many writers are often unsure whether to hyphenate or not to hyphenate a descriptive word combination in a sentence. We all know there are often exceptions to a ‘rule’ in grammar-talk, and many word combos that have required a hyphen to separate them in the past, such as ‘on-line’, ‘stand-alone’ and ‘proof-reader’, are now morphing into one word. When editing […]

The long-winded ‘journey’ sentence, often punctuated with too many stops and starts can be excruciating. It can lose readers in its wordiness. Some readers may end up wishing they could sentence the author to the depths of Dante’s Inferno. But I’m rather partial to the occasional well-constructed long sentence—it can be intoxicating. I am glad others agree. In a recent […]

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? When I copyedit or proofread an unpublished manuscript, I am frequently asked questions such as: ‘Why did you change the capitalisation of ‘Dad’ in the sentence to lower case?’ The simplified […]

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 […]