Posted: Sep. 12th 2016

The British Council (2006) found that 375 million individuals speak English as a first language, another 375 million as a second language, and 750 million as a foreign language. That amounts to about 1.5 billion, or one-fifth of the world’s population. Clearly proficiency in English is of increasing importance.

Posted: Aug. 17th 2016

Voice and Person in APA Style

Imagine you are writing a dissertation or journal article in the social sciences. You want to sound objective and professional. For that purpose, which person should you use: first (I/we) or third (he/she/they)? Which voice: active or passive? Once upon a time, you would have said third and passive without even blinking. Not so now.

Posted: Jan. 4th 2016

Capitalization in APA Style

In APA style, you will most likely need to describe a number of tests, measures, and theories, among other things. Your first impulse might be to capitalize everything because you will use specific names, but capitalization is not always acceptable. Here’s a brief guide to capitalization in APA.


Posted: Aug. 6th 2015

Clear writing is essential, especially nowadays. According to a recent study Microsoft conducted (May 2015), the average attention span for an adult fell from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. Readers grow frustrated when they do not quickly grasp the meaning of a sentence. That coupled with our falling attention spans (since the mobile technology revolution) means that any confusion in your writing can cause readers to click away.

Posted: Jul. 2nd 2015

Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

What is a modifier and why should I care if it dangles? Is it like a muffler? Likewise, how can I misplace one? Are modifiers small enough to drop or camouflage?

Not quite.

A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that provides detail about some other element in a sentence.

Posted: Apr. 30th 2015

Reported Speech and the Sequence of Tenses

Suppose we want to share something a person said, but we don’t want to use a direct quotation. How do we do it?

We need to transform pronouns, verb tenses (using something called the sequence of tenses), and place and time words.

Say/Ask Verb in the Present or Future

Posted: Mar. 23rd 2015

Ambiguous References

What is an ambiguous reference, and how can we fix it?

Before we can tackle this VERY common writing problem, we need a little vocabulary.

You probably already know this, but just in case, I’ll offer a definition. A pronoun is a word that replaces or refers back to a noun (that we’ve already seen in the sentence or paragraph).

Posted: Mar. 4th 2015

Professional Editor's Corner: Commas from Up North (Canada)

I covered Canadian spelling and hyphenation in a previous blog. Up next is the comma. I will include all the major rules, even those we also use in American English, but I will make a note when they differ.

Let’s start with the heavy lifting.

When DO we use commas?

Posted: Feb. 12th 2015

Professional Editor's Corner: Punctuation Quirks


American English most definitely possesses some punctuation quirks. We see this with questions.


1. In American English, we can ask a question without quotation marks or commas.

Is it worth the risk? he wondered.

Posted: Feb. 2nd 2015

Professional Editor's Corner: Canadian Spelling

Billions of people around the world speak English. You’d think that this would facilitate communication, and it does. For the most part. Unfortunately, we have four major types of English (American, Australian, British, and Canadian), and when it comes to idioms and written communication, they differ somewhat.