• Grammar and spelling,  Proofreading

    Spelt v spelled

    People are often confused about the correct spelling of the past tense of the verb ‘to spell’. As with so many of these issues, the problem seems to be one of a clash between the UK, the US, and the rest of the English-writing world, and a question of style.

  • Proofreading


    In this area, you’ll find blog posts about aspects of grammar that trip people up, or often come up as issues in work that we do. There are also some how-to guides on dealing with the proofreading process. Feel free to comment on any blog or ask general questions about issues you’ve always wondered about.

  • Proofreading

    Editing or proofreading?

    I offer both proofreading services and editing. They’re related services and people aren’t always sure of the difference. Basically, proofreading tells you what is wrong with a document or manuscript, whereas editing will tell you how to make things even better. Proofreading Basic proofreading covers things like: Spelling errors Grammatical errors Formatting errors Very basic continuity and factual errors If English is not your first language, it will pick up on syntax errors and iron out the language.

  • Hall of Shame,  Proofreading

    Hall of shame: Ikea finally bend space

    I saw this sign on a recent trip to Ikea. The sign claims that “These facilities are also located in the Entrance area and our Restaurant upstairs”. That’s not what they mean of course, they mean that similar facilities are located in those places. This is an example of what you often end up with if you try and be too complicated with what you’re saying, and start diverting from using Plain English. Whoever wrote this sign is obviously trying to avoid the word ‘Toilets’. Why? “You can also find toilets in our entrance area and near the restaurant upstairs” would make much more sense. It actually uses more words…

  • Proofreading,  Punctuation

    Hyphens v en-dashes

    Hyphen, en-dashes, and em-dashes are very similar, commonly-confused pieces of punctuation. Hyphens A hyphen is used to join two words. There should be no spaces on either side of a hyphen. Example Lizzie Cass-Maran A well-read book A dark-blue sea En-dashes An en-dash is used to indicate a break, where a comma or semi colon may possibly be used instead. It’s generally a bit less formal. These are called parenthetical en-dashes. There should be a space on either side of a parenthetical en-dash. Example Wait – stop! A standard keyboard only contains a hyphen key. When you type a space on either side of a hyphen, most programmes will automatically…

  • Proofreading,  Punctuation

    Using quotation marks – single or double?

    People sometimes get confused about whether to use single or double quotation marks (also known as ‘inverted commas’). The answer, as with so many things when it comes to proofreading, is that it’s up to you, as long as you are consistent. You will probably want to use different types of quotation marks for reported speech, and for other uses.

  • Proofreading,  Punctuation

    Correct use of apostrophes

    Apostrophes An apostrophe is used for two purposes: To show one or more missing letters: Don’t (do not) They’re (they are) Claire’s (Claire is) To show ownership: Claire’s bucket, the children’s toys, Jesus’s disciples. Jesus’s? Ok, so this one depends on your style guide again. Some people prefer to leave out the second s and simply write : Jesus’ disciples. A good rule of thumb is to examine what you would say out loud. You might say: Jesuses disciples, or Chrises pen. However, you would never say: Studenteses Union So when something ends in ‘s’ because it is plural, and you also want to show that something belongs to these,…