What's new

  • I love to answer questions, and now I have a widget where you can ask me a quick question on whatever editing, style, or usage question that's vexing you. No charge. Just introduce yourself at bottom right of this page.
  • The annual conference of ACES: The Society for Editing is April 22 and 23 online. I'm not presenting this year, which means I will be attending as many sessions as I can. I'll also be playing host in some networking rooms during the conference, so be sure to say hello if you are attending.
  • Along with ACES, the annual Freelancer Happy Hour returns on Zoom the evening of April 22. It's sponsored this year by That Word Chat and Right Touch Editing. All the usual fabulous door prizes are part of the event. Click the link at the top of the page for details and to sign up.
  • I'll be presenting at the Editors Canada national conference at 4:15 on June 12. My talk is The Editor's Library: Essential tools for bookshelf and browser.
  • Still relevant is my presentation last year for ACES: The Society for Editing called "What's New in Style," a look at style guide changes. The recording is available here.


  • Let me bring your editorial department up to speed on continuing changes in the Associated Press Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style and the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association. Check here for a customized presentation.
  • If "they" is singular, does "themself" naturally follow? I wrote about the question in a blog entry.

A good copy editor takes on the role of reader, making sure the writer's point is understood. I clean documents of distracting typos, I match usage to preferred style, and I make sure clarity is achieved so honest ideas come through.

Clarity, consistency, elegance

Style questions of the year: Black and White

Publications nationwide have decided to capitalize the racial identifier Black. The more difficult question has been what to do about white?


I wrote about capitalizing Black for the website of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors before the AP (and The New York Times) adopted the capital B. You can read that here. With AP's decision on lowercase white, I added a few thoughts on my blog. Read those thoughts here.

Clarity through copy editing

A good copy editor takes on the  role of reader, making sure the author’s point is understood. A good copy editor helps the author and reader connect.


Knowledge to share

Presentations range from a seven-minute look at confusable words to day-long workshops on writing, copy-editing, grammar, style guides, and other topics. I'm available via webinar or in person.


Writing that makes the point

Projects include researching and writing  marketing documents, business-to-business letters and newsletters, and internal newsletters. I also researched and wrote an institutional history book.

Questions I am frequently asked

Do I affect the effect or the other way around?

The noun is usually "effect," and "affect" is usually the verb. As verbs, to "affect" is to influence and to "effect" is to bring about, as in "effect change," meaning create change.


Did I lay down or lie down?

You "lay" something. Annoyingly, "lay" also is the past tense of "lie." If you just took a nap, you say "I lay down for a bit."  Many people say "I laid down for a bit," but we usually reserve "laid" for when there is an object involved: "She laid the scissors on the mantel."


Is it ever OK to use "they" to refer to an individual

We do it all the time in speech. In writing, it would sure be useful, wouldn't it? You will find that sticklers stickle, but "they" as a singular, genderless pronoun is gaining acceptance.


Beside or besides? Toward or towards?

"Beside" means physically next to. "Besides" means "other than." They used to be interchangeable, but they've grown distinct. Most -ward words are interchangeable, but Americans tend to leave off the "s" while British English writers tend to leave it on.


If I'm talking about a cat, is it "awe cute"? "aww, cute"?

Awe traditionally is fear, respect, wonder. Awesome things are usually not fear-inducing these days, but as awesome as your cat may be, you are looking for "aw, cute." Some dictionaries accept "aww, cute" for particularly cute cats.

Click for more FAQs

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