The Grammar Pep Squad

I love this! As a copy editor, I’m much happier helping people than picking on them. Yay grammar!

Madam Grammar

Yay, grammar!
(Julie Elliott-Abshire/stock.xchng)

I hear people all the time refer to the “Grammar Police,” or, even worse, “Grammar Nazis.” (As an aside, can we all please quit referring to anyone other than Nazis as “Nazis” — real Nazis were far more heinous than any politician, pedant or petty bureaucrat.) And while I’ve made a living as an editor and a teacher of editing, I don’t like to think of myself as the “Grammar Patrol” but rather the “Grammar Pep Squad.” After all, grammar is a grand and necessary thing, and it deserves a little cheerleading.

Grammar structures our language and lets us use it to communicate all manner of information (as linguist Noam Chomsky put it, a finite set of rules for infinite combinations). The rules of grammar help us convey messages clearly and accurately, and let us express meaning through small nuances and great distinctions. Grammar is not…

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Twenty Common Spelling and Usage Mistakes, Including Some Surprises

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a copy editor is that there are always more copyediting lessons to be learned. The Mashable article partially reproduced below includes a couple of new lessons for me. Entitled "20 Word Usage Mistakes Even Smart People Make," it sets out many familiar mistakes, like "accept" … Continue reading Twenty Common Spelling and Usage Mistakes, Including Some Surprises

Formatting your Novel Manuscript

Basic, excellent recommendations from!

Lara Willard

Getting your manuscript ready for submission to agents or publishers in the digital age | writelarawrite


Choosing a Font
Emailing Requested Pages
Formatting your Manuscript
Keeping Punctuation Consistent
Receiving an Offer of Representation

Choosing a Font

The choice of font for your manuscript is one that’s been made for you. You need to use 12 pt. Times New Roman, double-spaced.

The size 12 font and double spacing is non-negotiable. The typeface is. Still, after asking dozens of literary agents about their preferences, I urge you to choose Times New Roman.

Why TNR?

Personally, as a typesetter, reader, and graphic designer, I loathe Times New Roman. But here’s why you must use Times New Roman for standard manuscript formatting:

  1. It’s standard. It’s been the standard since TNR was the default typeface installed on home computers.
  2. It’s a serif font. Publishers prefer serif fonts, and that preference has carried over to literary agents. It’s what we associate with books.
  3. It’s available on any device or browser. There are only…

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How do I combine several Word documents into one document?

LibroEditing proofreading, editing, transcription, localisation

This article explains how to combine several Word documents into one document. It’s particularly useful if you’ve written a dissertation, thesis or book and need to combine all of the chapters into one file.

These instructions work for Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013; I’ve used Word 2010 for the screenshots

Why would I want to combine chapters into one document?

Lots of people do their writing a chapter at a time, and have it edited a chapter at a time, too. But the time will come when you want to put it all into one book, with page numbers running throughout, rather than messing around starting the page numbers for chapter 2 at the next number on from chapter 1, etc.

What’s the incorrect way to combine my chapters?

You might be tempted to pick up the text of each chapter and copy and paste it into one…

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The Best Way Ever on the Planet to Remember That “Alot” is Not a Word

Have you ever seen alot written as one word? I don't mean allot, similar to allocate. I mean alot, one word, instead of a lot, two words, meaning quite a bit. Just in case you weren't certain, alot isn't a real word. Don't be surprised if you thought otherwise; it shows up, well, a lot, especially in the … Continue reading The Best Way Ever on the Planet to Remember That “Alot” is Not a Word

Learn the Difference Between i.e. and e.g., and a Little about Bigfoot

For me, copy editing is a lot of fun, very much like working on a puzzle, e.g., a jigsaw puzzle, a crossword puzzle, or a word search. If you think that it might have been better to use i.e. instead of e.g. in the preceding sentence, please allow me to introduce you to a particularly entertaining way … Continue reading Learn the Difference Between i.e. and e.g., and a Little about Bigfoot

With Thanks to Weird Al, This is Why You Need an Editor

This Weird Al video is hilarious, but please know that I do not endorse his insults towards those who make writing mistakes. I am not the grammar police, even when you hire me. I'm more of a grammar counselor; my red pen is gentle. Nevertheless, if this video encourages people to see that copy editors are here to help, … Continue reading With Thanks to Weird Al, This is Why You Need an Editor