Author Archive for Candy L. Hill

Writing Drunk and Editing Sober?!

While surfing the net today I found this infographic about the science behind “writing drunk and editing sober.” It is an interesting view of the advice often credited to Hemingway. One takeaway is that you should definitely not edit drunk – you might try coffee instead.


Courtesy of: The Expert Editor


The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Writing Essays

  • Do you know what makes a good essay?
  • Do you need to write an essay for school, college, or university?
  • What grammar mistakes should you avoid?
  • When’s the right time for the conclusion and what style and persona should it be written in?

For their third infographic on essay writing, GrammarCheck compiled a list of important tips for your next essay, which will answer all of these questions and more.

The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Writing Essays (Infographic)

10-Step Guide to Proofreading Essays Quickly

In the second of three infographics about writing essays, GrammarCheck shows you how to efficiently proofread an essay. It highlights ten common mistakes and explains how to fix them. It also includes some valuable writing tips on how to make your next essay more effective and engaging.

The 10-Step Guide to Proofreading Essays Quickly (Infographic)

How to Write an Essay Like the Pros

Do you know what makes a good essay? This infographic from Jennifer Frost at GrammarCheck teaches you the rules as well as the steps of writing a great essay. It also includes some common mistakes to avoid when writing essays.

How to Write an Essay Like the Pros (Infographic)

Bye Grammar Mistakes! 21 Rules to Remember

Jennifer Frost from offers this infographic with 21 frequently ignored (or unknown) grammar rules and writing mistakes that everyone who writes should know:

Bye Grammar Mistakes! 21 Rules to Remember (Infographic)

How to Avoid Using the Word “Very”

Numerous words used in writing are overused or considered cliché. Words like “really” and “literally” have become almost meaningless. “Very” may be the most overused word of all. In a recent email Mary Jaksch, Editor-in-Chief,, wrote:

The word “very.”

It’s arguably one of the most overused words by writers.

When you’re trying to make readers fall in love with your writing, the last thing you want to do is bombard them with lackluster sentences – and the extreme overuse of the word ‘very’ has resulted in it losing all of its impact.

Mark Twain once said… “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Not bad advice. And also, as we’ve come to expect from Twain, it’s chuckle-worthy.

This infographic from was recently shared It gives us 128 words to use instead of  “very.”

128 Words To Use Instead Of Very

Have you ever thought about writing a book?

Jennifer Frost from offers this infographic with answers to many of the questions you might have.

An Effective Beginner's Guide to Writing Books (Infographic)

Have you ever wondered why the British and Americans spell some words differently?

You can blame it on Noah Webster (1758-1843).

When Noah Webster started putting his dictionary together, he thought it would be a good idea to simplify some English spelling and that -our was one ending he thought we could do without. Standard American spelling, ever since then, has sometimes been different from British. Webster was a nationalist and his campaign for spelling reform was driven as much by his belief that America needed to develop its own culture as his belief in simplified spelling. Webster published his American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.

When discussing Webster’s influence, Christopher Dobbs, former Executive Director of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, wrote:

In 1783, Webster published Volume 1 of A Grammatical Institute of the English Language (a.k.a., The American Spelling Book but best known for the color of its binding as the Blue-Backed Speller). Webster believed that the fledgling country needed its own textbooks and a codified language around which to unite. He wrote, “Now is the time and this the country in which we may expect success in attempting changes to language, science, and government. Let us then seize the present moment and establish a national language as well as a national government.” His speller, later reader, and grammar all incorporated American heroes and authors with the goal of creating national symbols to galvanize the country. Between 1783 and the early 1900s it is estimated that Webster’s spelling book sold nearly 100 million copies. Over 30 influential textbooks followed, including History of the United States, the nation’s first full-length history.- See more at

Here is a list of common words that are spelled differently by the British and Americans:

canceled cancelled
center centre
check cheque
color colour
criticize criticise
gray grey
humor humour
judgment judgement
labor labour
license licence
realize realise
theater theatre
tire tyre
valor valour

Looking for more information? According to Grammar Girl, The Economist, a British publication, has an interesting page about Americanisms in their online style guide. I went looking for it and it is everything you thought it would be. I made it into a pdf for easy reading and you can find it here.

Which Writing Mistakes Do You Think are the Worst?

Grammarly asked its social media communities which writing mistakes were the worst kinds of errors. Their results are shown in the infographic below. In the article, they discuss the top five worst writing mistakes and how to avoid and correct them.


Check out the entire article here.

Common Punctuation Conventions

Whether you are a novice writer or a seasoned professional, you should always proofread your work carefully before sharing or publishing it. Punctuation mistakes can give a wrong first impression of you and what you’re attempting to project about your writing skills.

There are no fixed rules of proper punctuation, but there are conventions that we are expected to follow. The majority of these conventions relate to punctuation marks and how to use them. Let’s look at some of the most common punctuation marks.

Using End-of-Sentence Punctuation Marks

  1. Period
    Every sentence has at least one punctuation mark – the one at the end. The period is the most common. It is used to end sentences that are declarative. A declarative sentence is a sentence in the form of a statement rather than a question, command, or exclamation. Most sentences are declarative.
  1. Question Mark
    The question mark is used to end a sentence. It is used to end an interrogative sentence – essentially, any sentence that asks a question.
  1. Exclamation Mark
    The exclamation mark is used to end commands or exclamatory sentences.It suggests excitement or strong emphasis. The exclamation mark is also used to end exclamations — short expressions of intense emotion that are often only one word long.

Using Commas

The comma separates the structural elements of sentences into manageable segments. The comma gives the reader or speaker a break, and it can help emphasize a point. The Purdue OWL has a Quick Guide to Commas that will assist in your understanding of when to use commas. Basically,

  • Use commas to separate independent clauses in a sentence.
  • Use commas after introductory words, phrases, or clauses that come before the main clause.
  • Use a pair of commas to separate an aside from the main body of the sentence.
  • Do not use commas to separate essential elements of the sentence.
  • Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series.
  • Use commas to set off all geographical names, items in dates (except the month and day), addresses (except the street number and name), and titles in names.
  • Use a comma to shift between the main discourse and a quotation.
    Right: She asked in a loud voice, “Is anybody home?”
    Wrong: She asked in a loud voice “Is anybody home?”
  • Use commas if they prevent confusion.

The Oxford Comma

The Oxford comma (also serial comma or Harvard comma) comes into play when separating three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series. When using the Oxford comma, all items are separated by a comma. Many people prefer not to use this style and will omit the final comma. For example,

With an Oxford Comma: I like apples, oranges, plums, and strawberries.
Without an Oxford Comma: I like apples, oranges, plums and strawberries.

Using Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are used to quote another person’s words exactly, whether they are spoken or written. Quotation marks also set off the titles of things that do not usually stand by themselves: short stories, poems, and articles. Quotation marks can also be used to denote irony or sarcasm, or to note something unusual about it. Single quotation marks are used to indicate a quotation within a quotation. Remember that quotation marks always come in pairs. Do not open a quotation and forget to close it at the end of the quoted material.

Punctuation with quotations

Punctuation belonging to the original quote should be inside the quote marks. Punctuation relating to the entire sentence should be outside. Always put colons and semicolons outside quotes. Put commas and periods inside quotations unless followed by parenthesis.

Using Colons, Semicolons, and Parentheses

  1. Colon
    Colons should be used after a complete statement in order to introduce one or more directly related ideas, such as a series of directions, a list, or a quotation or other comment illustrating or explaining the statement. Colons are also used to introduce a new concept or example and to separate parts of a title.
    Right: We wanted to have a three-course meal: lamb chops, pureed potatoes and a salmon mousse.
    Wrong: We wanted to have a three-course meal, lamb chops, pureed potatoes and a salmon mousse.
  1. Semicolon
    Semicolons are used to separate two related but independent clauses. They are also used to separate a complex series of items or if the elements of the list already include commas.
    Right: On Monday, when everyone was tired after the weekend, students kept silent; however, on Wednesday, the situation changed.
    Wrong: On Monday, when everyone was tired after the weekend, students kept silent, however, on Wednesday, the situation changed. (Using too many commas can be rather confusing.)
  1. Parentheses
    Parentheses are used to clarify, to convey an afterthought, or for personal comments.

Using Apostrophes

Apostrophes perform two basic functions: (1) to form possessives of nouns and (2) to form contractions that indicate one or more missing letters. The apostrophe should not be used to indicate a plural. See or for more extensive discussions of the apostrophe.

(1) The general rule is that the possessive of a singular noun is formed by adding an apostrophe and s, whether the singular noun ends in s or not. (This position can be controversial.)

  • the lawyer’s fee
  • the child’s toy
  • Jones’s house
  • anyone’s guess
  • a week’s vacation

The possessive of a plural noun is formed by adding only an apostrophe when the noun ends in s, and by adding both an apostrophe and s when it ends in a letter other than s.

  • children’s toys
  • the twins’ parents
  • the student teachers’ supervisor
  • the boys’ baseball team
  • the alumni’s fundraising

(2) Sometimes, especially in informal writing, apostrophes are used to indicate one or more missing letters. For example, the word “don’t” is short for “do not”; other examples include isn’t, wouldn’t, and can’t.

Other Punctuation Marks

Other punctuation marks include brackets, ellipses, dashes, hyphens, and slashes. Brackets are used to set apart or insert text within other text. Ellipses are used to indicate the intentional leaving out of a word, to trail off at the end of a sentence, to pause, or to show an unfinished thought. Dashes create a range or set off words, phrases, sentences for special emphasis. Hyphens join words or syllables. The slash is used to indicate a choice between the words it separates.

We could discuss punctuation for days. The point is to be aware and check your work before publishing it.