GrammarPhile Blog

Can I Proofread My Own Work?

Posted by Sara Richmond   Aug 11, 2022 10:30:00 AM

Tips for Self-Editing and Proofreading

Maybe you can’t pay for professional proofreading. Maybe it would be wrong for you to pay for a proofreading service (say, for a college essay, which would give you an unfair advantage over your peers). Maybe you just want to better your self-proofing skills to gain more confidence as a writer.

Whatever the reason, you can proofread your own work. To prove it and to ensure you leave this page armed with everything you need to proofread your writing with ease, we interviewed ProofreadNOW.com President Phil Jamieson for his top self-proofing tips.

Use Spell-check But Don’t Trust It

Make the most of spell-check, but don’t assume for a skinny minute it’s a foolproof way to prevent errors. Take it from proofreaders who see thousands of documents a week: Spell-check gives you a false sense of security because it doesn’t have a brain capable of critical thinking.

For example: “Pubic” is a correctly spelled word. Spell-check doesn’t know you meant “public.” Spell-check doesn’t care that you meant “public.” Spell check will let you prance all the way to your presentation with C-suite until you click to the slide with that word in 72-point font on a 10-foot-wide screen and accidentally read it as written.

There’s no graceful recovery for that moment. Bless your heart. (And don’t even get us started on “prostrate” versus “prostate.”)

And as for checking grammar, well, just type “The boy the girls loves is here.” into a Word doc with the so-called grammar checker on and see what it thinks: NOTHING.

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Topics: proofreading tips

3 Reasons You Should Copyright Your Written Work and How to Do It

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jul 28, 2022 9:00:00 AM

I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it. - Carl Sandburgas The internet is amazing and messy. It gives nearly everyone the chance to have a voice, to create, and to showcase their skills, especially writers. For work or for fun, whether you consider yourself a writer or not, if you’ve ever published or shared anything online that you’ve written, you’ve probably wondered whether you should copyright it. Which brings us to the downside: Worldwide access to virtually everything that’s published online is often paired with a shocking amount of plagiarism/virtual theft.

  • We’ve seen it:
    • A LinkedIn post with three words changed from the original writer’s.
    • A homepage or logo or tagline that is almost identical to a competitor’s.
    • A family’s fake GoFundMe page with a story copied directly from a new site.
  • We’ve committed it:
    • Reshared a story we didn’t realize was under copyright.
    • Used a source without citing it correctly.
    • Reposted a funny image that had a user license.

  • We’ve been the victim:
    • Your work appears on somebody else’s site without attribution.
    • The greeting card you submitted for publishing is rejected, but you see it, word for word, by the same company, in a grocery store a couple of years later.
    • A client refuses to pay for a white paper you wrote but broadcasts it to their email list anyway.

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Topics: copyright

I Can’t Write

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jul 14, 2022 9:00:00 AM

5 Easy Steps to Become a Better Writer

In your own words, you stink at writing. You’d rather do long division without a calculator while sitting in the sun as mosquitos feast on your legs. When you try to write, you feel overwhelmed and foolish. The results are always embarrassing.

Every now and then, you get an idea that seems brilliant. You type it out, read it back, and realize it’s actually trash. So you toss it, along with your hopes and dreams, into the bin. You avoid writing. Your standard response to anything writing-related is, “I can’t write.”

Enough already. This is codswallop, and I’ll prove it in five ways, just before I give you five easy steps you can take to become a better writer.

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Percent vs. Percentage

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jun 23, 2022 9:00:00 AM

If you just googled “When to use percent or percentage,” you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you need to know:

“Percent” and “percentage” are sometimes used interchangeably, especially when people are speaking informally. But these words actually have slightly different meanings (“percent” is one part of a hundred; “percentage” is a part of a whole) and are different parts of speech; “percent” is an adverb and “percentage” is a noun.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition, our preferred style guide (mainly because anything over 1,100 pages must be right), has this to say on the issue:

“Despite changing usage, Chicago continues to regard percent as an adverb (“per, or out of, each hundred,” as in 10 percent of the class)—or, less commonly, an adjective (a 10 percent raise)—and to use percentage as the noun form (a significant percentage of her income). The symbol %, however, may stand for either word.” (3.82)

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Topics: percentage points, percentage, percent, percent sign

10 Best Online Word Games

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jun 9, 2022 10:15:00 AM

The word “best” is a troublemaker. “Best” can mean most popular by number of downloads. Or highest rated by reviews. “Best” can mean a list of personal favorites without any supporting data. “Best” can just mean “I really want this blog post to rank for SEO.”

“Best” can also mean we did our best, and we think this is a dandy list of games that, unless you actually hate word games, will tickle your linguistic bone, satisfy your boredom, and give you bragging rights for days.

Here are the 10 best online word games, in no particular order.

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The Danger of Proofreading Your Own Work

Posted by Sara Richmond   May 19, 2022 10:30:00 AM

Muphry’s Law and What to Look Out For

The author sent me a copy of her published manuscript. The acknowledgements page thanked several notable people, including her editor. I squealed with delight and flipped through the pages, coming to rest midway through the book. A typo glared up at me.

I groaned and shut the book.

Yes, the editor was me.

“Murphy’s Law” states “If something can go wrong, it will.”1 For the sake of people cringing the world over, it’s been extended and adapted to various industries, including editing.

The similar and equally cynical “Muphry’s Law” is a summary of four editorial principles:

    1. If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written. (I call this the Prepare to Eat Crow principle.)
    2. If an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book. (Also known as Inflate and Deflate, as illustrated by the first paragraph of this post.)
    3. The stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault.
    4. Any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.2

If you, like me, can confirm the truth of these statements, welcome to a large and humble group of people who love language even though it trips them up.

For the sake of reducing Muphry’s Law from a jack hammer to a mosquito-buzzing level of frustration, here are a few stumbling blocks we often miss in our own work.

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Topics: proofreading mistakes

When to Use the Letter C

Posted by Sara Richmond   May 5, 2022 11:00:00 AM

Spelling with the sounds of letter C

The letter C is a big weirdo. Some people might even think it’s useless. It’s a K and S wannabe, but just not up to standing on its own, right?

First of all, how dare you insult such a cute letter. Second, no. Allow me to explain what this letter is all about, and how and when to use it.

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Topics: pronunciation

How to Write About a Boring Topic

Posted by Sara Richmond   Apr 21, 2022 10:30:00 AM

5 Tips to Get and Keep Your Readers’ Attention

 

 

I have less than 8.25 seconds to convince you to keep reading. Less than 8.25 seconds before you click away. Less than 8.25 seconds before you…FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, COME BACK!

When it comes to our collective attention span, we’ve been beaten out by goldfish.

For all the writers out there, you feel my pain. In the age of endless distraction, writing about a boring topic seems worse than pointless. It’s like having someone hand you a coffin and saying, “Lie down in this and be lively.”

We get it. We’re a proofreading company, for gosh sake. Every time we talk about our work at a dinner party, we’re never invited back.

We know the stumbling blocks (or is it “crocks”), the most effective ways to make your readers roll their eyes, groan, and glaze over. But because we read and read and read, we also know the springboards—the approaches and tricks and strategies that make a huge difference in getting and keeping the attention of your goldfish…ahem…audience.

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Topics: writing about boring topics

When to Use “A” vs. “An”

Posted by Sara Richmond   Apr 7, 2022 7:30:00 AM

What’s the rule?

I have an incredibly smart friend who believed that onions should never be refrigerated.

He’d read something online that claimed if you stored a raw onion in a refrigerator, it would absorb toxic bacteria and poison you. I informed him that onions often require cold temperatures to grow properly, so that claim made absolutely no sense. And for all the refrigerated onions my family had eaten, we’d never once been ill. He laughed.

Sometimes we’re fed a partial truth (that whole onions are better stored outside the refrigerator, for example) and ingest it as a whole one (it’s dangerous to store onions in the refrigerator). Just like the commonly known rule for using “a” and “an.”

If you were told in elementary school to use “a” before words beginning with a consonant and to use “an” before words beginning with a vowel, you were on the right track. But the truth is a little more complicated, and it can come back to bite you in the onion.

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Top 5 Grammar Tips

Posted by Sara Richmond   Mar 24, 2022 7:30:00 AM

The Hottest Topics from the PRN Archives

You’re a busy person. Like most people, you want value and convenience, and you want it 3.74 seconds before you thought about it. To that aim, we’ve gathered the Top 5 ProofreadNOW.com blog posts by view count over the past year. These are the topics our readers found the most helpful compiled into a single extremely convenient and bursting-with-grammatical-value list:

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Topics: grammar

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