What's new?

  • The deadline for proposals for the American Copy Editors 2017 national conference in St. Petersburg is November 18. Share your ideas and sign up for the March 23-25 conference here.
  • I presented Mnemonize Your Word Choices in a pecha kucha format (20 slides, 20 seconds each) at the 2016 ACES conference. The handout contains dozens of mnemonics.
  • I considered the old phrase horse opera for Grammar Girl and found a citation that predates the Oxford English Dictionary's earliest entry by half a century.

Questions I frequently am asked

  • Did I lay down or lie down?

    You "lay" something. But, annoyingly, "lay" also is the past tense of "lie." Lay an object down. Lie down. He lay down. If you just took a nap, you say "I lay down for a bit" or "I decided to lie down."  If you say "I laid down for a bit," few would bat an eye, but we usually reserve "laid" for when there is an object involved: "She laid the scissors on the mantel."

     

     

  • 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. Effect something and take the credit. Usually we talk about "effecting change," meaning you are creating the change. Affecting something means you don't create it, you just influence it.

     

     

  • 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, and it's still best to look for a way to write around the issue, 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. "Toward" and "towards" (along with other -ward words) are interchangeable, but Americans tend to leave off the "s" while British English writers tend to leave it on.

     

  • I thought it was OK to split an infinitive.

    It is, absolutely. Oh, the title to this section? "Questions I am frequently asked" sounds more natural, but my idiolect tends toward impish tweaking of both the rules and the counter-rules in the style of that thing Winston Churchill unfortunately never said about prepositions at the end of sentences. Once you know the "rules," you can play with them.

     

  • 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 have relented and accept "aww, cute." Common is the variant "awww, cute." "Awwww, cute" even gets 421,000 Google hits. For more awesome cuteness, see this blog post from 2010:
    http://markallenediting.com/2010/03/18/awe-spreads-faster-than-dictionaries-can-keep-up/

  • Where do I put the apostrophe with a title in quotation marks?

    This is not really a question I'm frequently asked, but I was asked at least once. The short answer is just don't. If you would like a longer answer, I wrote about it here: https://markallenediting.com/2016/04/15/possessive-of-a-title-in-quotes-just-dont/

     

     

Click for more FAQs

﷯Mark Allen was the freelance copy editor elected to the executive board of the American Copy Editors Society. He has served on the ACES board since 2012. He also is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, the American Society of Business Publication Editors, and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

Copy-editing services

Presentations, consultations

Writing

After two decades at newspapers in Michigan and Ohio, I am available to help you craft clear messages for your readers. My career as a copy editor and writer for newspapers, Fortune 500 companies, universities, and individuals has taught me the value of simplicity, whatever the audience. My focus is the message, conveyed to the reader honestly and understandably. Some clients and projects: Equity Methods: Online articles and white papers for a financial advisory firm focused on equity compensation and securities Kennedy Krieger Institute: Newsletter articles for an institute focusing on pediatric developmental disabilities The Ohio Collaborative, Ohio State University: Early-childhood education website developed for the Department of Defense Roto: Museum and science-center display signs and explainers Pat Mitchell, former president and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service: Personal website The Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board: Report on business support for educational achievement International Center for Transitional Justice: Report on legacies of sexual violence in northern Uganda Columbus State Community College: Hundred-page Systems Portfolio accreditation document for Higher Learning Commission Policy Analysis for California Education: Several policy papers and election guide for Berkeley-based education research center National University: Three successful accreditation self-studies
Mark Allen can speak to writing, editing, and word usage issues for fellow copy editors and anyone who writes in small groups and large, in-person or online. He teaches advanced copy editing for the University of California San Diego Extension certificate program. He also is available for critiques and consultations. Upcoming and past presentations include: Mnemonize Your Word Choices, 6 minute, 40 second presentation for the American Copy Editors Society national conference, April 2, 2016, Portland Workshop for the American Society of Business Publication Editors, July, St. Petersburg, Florida Words and editing presentation for Allstate Insurance, July, 2015 Editing workshop for Kappa Kappa Gamma editorial team, August 2013, Columbus Freelancer’s Forum, organizer, moderator, panelist: American Copy Editors Society 2011, 2012 and 2013 national conferences, Phoenix, New Orleans and St. Louis. Panelist in 2014 in Las Vegas Editing Boot Camp, co-presenter: ACES regional workshops in St. Louis, Las Vegas, Detroit and Columbus (organizer) Expanding our Editorial Skills, panelist: Society for Editors and Proofreaders National Conference, York, England, September, 2012 Weathering the Publishing Storm, copyediting in the digital age: Copyediting Newsletter audio conference, May 2012 Become a Numbers Person: Copyediting Newsletter audio conference, February 2011
Mark recently completed a 100-page history book covering 130 years of the College of Pharmacy at the Ohio State University. He served as an in-house communication consultant, writer, editor, and project manager for Nationwide Financial Retirement Plans. He has written articles for Copyediting.com, the American Copy Editors Society, Grammar Girl, and Ragan Communications.

Tweets and retweets

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My focus is on helping people communicate clearly and honestly. I am a copy editor and writer, editorial consultant and presenter. Rates are based on ranges published by the Editorial Freelancers Association and an estimate of the hours involved. We can chat about your budget and plan what will work best. Proofreading, formatting and design services are available.
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. I've been doing this for 30 years. ﷯ 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 happy to tailor talks. 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.

Copyright 2016 Mark Allen Editorial LLC

﷯Mark Allen was the freelance copy editor elected to the executive board of the American Copy Editors Society. He has served on the ACES board since 2012. He also is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, the American Society of Business Publication Editors, and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.
After two decades at newspapers in Michigan and Ohio, I am available to help you craft clear messages for your readers. My career as a copy editor and writer for newspapers, Fortune 500 companies, universities, and individuals has taught me the value of simplicity, whatever the audience. My focus is the message, conveyed to the reader honestly and understandably. Some clients and projects: Equity Methods: Online articles and white papers for a financial advisory firm focused on equity compensation and securities Kennedy Krieger Institute: Newsletter articles for an institute focusing on pediatric developmental disabilities The Ohio Collaborative, Ohio State University: Early-childhood education website developed for the Department of Defense Roto: Museum and science-center display signs and explainers Pat Mitchell, former president and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service: Personal website The Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board: Report on business support for educational achievement International Center for Transitional Justice: Report on legacies of sexual violence in northern Uganda Columbus State Community College: Hundred-page Systems Portfolio accreditation document for Higher Learning Commission Policy Analysis for California Education: Several policy papers and election guide for Berkeley-based education research center National University: Three successful accreditation self-studies
Mark Allen can speak to writing, editing, and word usage issues for fellow copy editors and anyone who writes in small groups and large, in-person or online. He teaches advanced copy editing for the University of California San Diego Extension certificate program. He also is available for critiques and consultations. Upcoming and past presentations include: Mnemonize Your Word Choices, 6 minute, 40 second presentation for the American Copy Editors Society national conference, April 2, 2016, Portland Workshop for the American Society of Business Publication Editors, July, St. Petersburg, Florida Words and editing presentation for Allstate Insurance, July, 2015 Editing workshop for Kappa Kappa Gamma editorial team, August 2013, Columbus Freelancer’s Forum, organizer, moderator, panelist: American Copy Editors Society 2011, 2012 and 2013 national conferences, Phoenix, New Orleans and St. Louis. Panelist in 2014 in Las Vegas Editing Boot Camp, co-presenter: ACES regional workshops in St. Louis, Las Vegas, Detroit and Columbus (organizer) Expanding our Editorial Skills, panelist: Society for Editors and Proofreaders National Conference, York, England, September, 2012 Weathering the Publishing Storm, copyediting in the digital age: Copyediting Newsletter audio conference, May 2012 Become a Numbers Person: Copyediting Newsletter audio conference, February 2011
Mark recently completed a 100-page history book covering 130 years of the College of Pharmacy at the Ohio State University. He served as an in-house communication consultant, writer, editor, and project manager for Nationwide Financial Retirement Plans. He has written articles for Copyediting.com, the American Copy Editors Society, Grammar Girl, and Ragan Communications.
Rates are based on ranges published by the Editorial Freelancers Association and an estimate of the hours involved. We can chat about your budget and plan what will work best. Proofreading, formatting and design services are available.
My focus is on helping people communicate clearly and honestly. I am a copy editor and writer, editorial consultant and presenter.
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. I've been doing this for 30 years. ﷯ 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 happy to tailor talks. 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.
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. I've been doing this for 30 years. ﷯ 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 happy to tailor talks. 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.