Don’t Repeat These Grammar Errors From Recent Headlines

Headlines provide never-ending examples of incorrect grammar, whether in word choice, word order or punctuation.

Reminder: I define grammar as the words we choose, how we string them together, and how we use punctuation to give them meaning.

News stories and their headlines should be examples of excellent writing. They also should conform to Standard English, defined as the way educated people write and speak. Writing in haste is no excuse for careless errors. Continue

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Writing Tips: 5 Techniques to Boost Your Readers’ Comprehension

Barbara McNichol

Whether it’s an email, a report, or a chapter in a book, are you sometimes challenged to make your writing easier to follow?

What are ways to create a smooth flow that guides your readers?

My friend and colleague Barbara McNichol, a nonfiction writing and editing expert, offers suggestions. Consider her tips to improve your writing:

  1. Use subheads: When you use subheads throughout your piece, readers can skim your content and quickly discern what’s to follow. Even more, subheads indicate a change of subject and allow readers to find it quickly. Your guide: new subject, new subhead.
  2. Convey one idea per paragraph: If you pack a paragraph with more than one idea, it creates difficulty following the meaning. In an email about a talk, for example, you’d use three separate paragraphs: one explaining the subject of the talk, one explaining who the presenter is, and the third showing the date, time, and place of the event. You can also add subheads to distinguish each paragraph.
  3. Use bullets points and numbered lists: When you list similar things (such as names, steps, benefits, requirements), you help readers recognize similar content quickly. With lists, you can leave out transitional words that paragraphs command. It helps the understanding when you use the same part of speech (e.g., a verb or a noun) at the beginning of each point. Note: In a list, when the order of the points matters, use numbers; otherwise, use bullets.
  4. Vary sentence length: Although short, concise sentences are easy to read, a string short sentences can feel disjointed. Add interest by varying the length of your sentences. My rule of thumb is keeping sentences shorter than 21 words so readers can follow the meaning more easily.
  5. Vary sentence structure: Building your sentences in the order of subject-verb-object is simple and clear. But if all your sentences are constructed that way, it might come across as monotonous. Along with varying sentence length, break out of the mold of standard sentence structure.

Practice these simple ways to make your writing easy to follow and enjoy better responses from your readers.

(The post Writing Tips: 5 Techniques to Boost Your Readers’ Comprehension appeared first on Barbara McNichol Editorial Services.)

As an expert editor, Barbara McNichol proudly helps authors change the world with their well-crafted words. She specializes in editing articles, websites, and nonfiction books in the areas of business, self-help, how-to, memoir, relationships, spirituality, and more. Her Word Trippers Tips provide an excellent resource to improve your writing. Visit her website at or email her at

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How NOT to Get a Job Interview: Poor Grammar in your Résumé

If you are looking for or will be looking for a job at some point in your life — that includes almost everyone reading this, right? — please consider what a business owner in the Detroit area found when he posted two open positions.

The first was for a part-time customer service position, and the second was for a full-time business-development manager.

Of the hundreds of résumés submitted through Indeed and LinkedIn, about 10 for each position qualified as “maybe,” and three were interviewed for each. Continue

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8 Reminders for Better Emails

Laptop, speaker, envelopes graphicEmail continues to be our primary mode of business communication. It’s often the first contact you have with — and the first impression you make on — a potential customer or employer.

A mastery of grammar helps you choose the right words and punctuation. This infographic has tips that show you not only how to compose a message that’s effective; it shows you how to create an email that’s visually pleasing and easy to read. Continue

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Grammar: Why You Should Do This, Not That

Grammar Matters!What is grammar? It encompasses the words you choose, how you string them together, and how you punctuate them to give them meaning.

To recognize National Grammar Day, which this year falls on March 4, the following post examines 11 sentences that demonstrate why grammar matters. I point out the grammatical errors in each and offer a suggested rewrite.

Examples are the best teachers. Continue

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If Only Writers Would Use ‘Only’ Right

guy sings at partyInaccurate placement of the modifier only continues to abound.

I’ve written about only before, and I’ve continued to save examples. Those with a misplaced only far outweigh those where only is in the right spot: closest to the word it modifies. Because the margin is so great, I’m climbing back onto my soapbox. Continue

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‘As Long As’ or ‘So Long As’ … What’s the Difference?

man presents giftIs there a grammar rule that applies to as long as and so long as?

Which of these do you consider correct?

“He can join us as long as he brings a gift to exchange.”
“He can join us so long as he brings a gift to exchange.”

When using as long as or so long as to imply something conditional — He can join us if he brings a gift to exchange — both are correct.

But the three-word phrases are not interchangeable in all constructions. Here are five ways to use as long as: Continue

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From Memorialize to Curate, Curator, Curation: What Do They Mean?

Have you noticed how often you’ve heard memorialize lately?

It has emerged primarily in the context of former FBI Director James Comey’s having made a written record of — in other words, memorializing — his conversations with President Donald Trump.

Many words in the English language have more than one meaning — or shades of meaning — depending on context.


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Grammar Rules Worth Breaking? You Decide

couple_disagree_grammarA former colleague sent me a link to Grammar Rules You Should Break in Business by Steve Yastrow. I agree with some of Yastrow’s suggestions and disagree with others.

What do you think?

Where We Agree, Disagree

Yastrow begins, “A language works according to a shared set of understood rules, which change over time as language evolves.” Continue

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