Advanced editing, before and after.

Original content:

We also provide managed business services should you choose to partner with us. We believe that managed services allows us to more closely work with you and stay more involved in decision making and problem solving. Unlike traditional services that charge hourly fees after a client has a need, our managed services spearheads issues before they arise. Because of this, we can proactively work with you to continue to move in a positive direction. Managed services are a proven way for clients to save money and stay successful.

What’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that sometimes “managed services” is treated as a singular noun phrase, and sometimes it’s treated as a plural noun phrase. I personally think that it could go either way, but that the plural is more graceful: it’s difficult to write “Managed services is a way…” No matter what, however, you’ve got to be consistent.

“Managed services allows” makes it singular.

“Managed services spearheads” makes it singular.

BUT!

“Managed services are” makes it plural.

The old “fewer” versus “less” problem.

You want to always remember the difference between “fewer” and “less”?

Here’s the trick: Fewer snowflakes, less snow.

This is not original, and I wish I could remember where I read this nifty quote so I could properly express my appreciation to its creator, but all I know is that I read it years ago, and it stuck.

Fewer snowflakes, less snow.

You can count “snowflakes,” but you can’t count “snow,” so use “fewer” with things you can count, and “less” with things that are uncountable.

A sentence like this, for example, is totally incorrect:

He is one of less than 60 professionals worldwide to hold both designations.

Here we even have a precise number in the mix, and the author still got it wrong. “Professionals” can be counted. This person is trying to establish that he (or she!) is so very special, so very rarefied, that there are fewer than 60 people like him (or her!) in the whole, entire, total, complete WORLD, and still he (or she!) makes this glaring grammatical error. Well, it wasn’t a big surprise, considering this person’s website also featured the NUMBER ONE mistake in American English:

…leadership isn’t something you do, its someone you become.

Naturally, the material featured in this description is based on this person’s “best-selling book.”

Isn’t amazing that all these supposed, self-professed “best-selling” authors—all of whom, of course, are writing about leadership— just can’t write their way out of a paper sack??

More Praise of the Serial Comma!

Yes, I continue to praise the serial comma!

I firmly believe that each item in a list should be separated, and the demarcation between the starting of one item and its conclusion should be clearly shown to a reader. The easiest way to make sure your reader understands the start-stop of an item is to separate all items with commas. In the case of the serial comma, it’s last comma, plus “and,” and then the last item. Easy.

Here’s a great example from a Wall Street Journal article that shows the difference.

No serial comma:

“The greatest influences in my life are my sisters, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna.”

(Gee, your sisters are named “Oprah Winfrey” and “Madonna”? That’s funny. There are two celebrities with those names!)

Serial comma:

“The greatest influences in my life are my sisters, Oprah Winfrey, and Madonna.”

(Oh, your sisters and Oprah Winfrey and Madonna are the greatest influences in your life. I get it!)

If your reader has to stop, go back, reread, you’ve failed as a writer. If your reader hesitates or is confused…you’ve failed as a writer.

Here’s the full article:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303410404577466662919275448

It’s all about trust!

I don’t know anything about chiropractic, thankfully, but I recently was hired to edit website content for a chiropractor. Part of the deal is to research various industry-specific terms, spellings, capitalizations, and so on, so I looked around the internet.

Chiropractic, it turns out, demands a fair amount of trust between patient and practitioner. How much confidence can someone have in a practitioner who writes something like this:

On the Left is an abnormal curved patient x-ray; where the patient’s abnormal shape is shown by the Red dashed line In reality, the only way to see what an individual patient’s spine alignment looks likes, is to obtain spinal imaging such as Radiography or X-ray. No-one would not take their car to the mechanic and say: “Something’s wrong with my engine but don’t look under the hood”–Would you? Then why would anyone want a Chiropractor to adjust-treat their spine without having an x-ray to see what the person’s spine looked like? —Would You?.

Mistakes? How about TWENTY SEVEN. Let me count the ways.

On the Left (1) is an abnormal curved patient x-ray (2); (3) where the patient’s (4) abnormal shape is shown by the Red (5) dashed line (6) In reality, the only way to see what an individual patient’s (7) spine alignment looks likes (8), (9)  is to obtain spinal imaging (10) such as (Should this have an article, like “a,” with it? I didn’t count it as a “mistake,” per se, but it’s on my radar.) Radiography (11) or (Same here.) X-ray. No-one (12) would not (13) take their (14) car to the mechanic and say: (15) “Something’s (16, 17) wrong with my engine (18) but don’t (19) look under the hood”–(20, 21) Would you? Then why would anyone want a Chiropractor (22) to adjust-treat (23) their (24) spine without having an x-ray (25) to see what the person’s (26) spine looked like? —Would You?. (27)

  1. lowercase
  2. it’s “X-ray”
  3. lowercase
  4. it’s “patient’s”
  5. lowercase
  6. period
  7. it’s “patient’s”!!
  8. should read “like”
  9. no comma
  10. comma
  11. lowercase
  12. it’s “no one”
  13. double negative; cut the “not”
  14. A singular noun (“no one”) should have a singular pronoun, which, in this case, should read “his or her.”
  15. I’d use a comma, not a colon.
  16. Need a quotation mark: “Something’s”
  17. And you need an apostrophe: it’s the contraction of “something is.”
  18. comma
  19. it’s “don’t”
  20. period
  21. end quote (double quotes!)
  22. lowercase
  23. I’d go with one or the other, but not both.
  24. Again, singular noun (“anyone”) needs “his or her.”
  25. it’s “X-ray”!!
  26. it’s “person’s”!!
  27. Since when do you use a period after a question mark?

I have an aunt whose favorite expression is “Geez, Louise.”

For this kind of writing, I can think of a couple of better expressions.

And no way is someone like that going to get within two miles of my spine!!

Common mistake by run-of-the-mill writers.

It’s always surprising when someone brags and brags about his or her accomplishments as a writer (‘international,” “best-selling,” “award-winning,” etc.) and includes a basic punctuation mistake, like this one, which was made twice in paragraph:

As an internationally-known award-winning author, publisher, and training professional, he has been listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the South & Southeast.

Never, ever hyphenate an -ly adverb. You could also make a case that there should be a comma between “internationally known” and “award-winning” (that is called the coordinate adjective rule), but I’d have to speak with this particular author to find out what exactly he means by this….Hard to imagine, though, that what’s happening here is not the coordinate adjective rule, but I’d have to do a little more digging to find out.

Boo, hiss for authors who can’t write!

 

Advanced editing!

What’s the matter with the content below?

We also provide managed business services should you choose to partner with us. We believe that managed services allows us to more closely work with you and stay more involved in decision making and problem solving. Unlike traditional services that charge hourly fees after a client has a need, our managed services spearheads issues before they arise. Because of this, we can proactively work with you to continue to move in a positive direction. Managed services are a proven way for clients to save money and stay successful.

Problematic Pronouns!

Wow, you want to confuse a reader right out of the gate?

Well, here’s an easy, no-brainer way to do it:

Use the same pronoun to refer to different things in a sentence.

This is a great, nay, inspirational example from an “internationally famous, best-selling” author (and, hey, I’m sure he’s a multi-millionaire!) who can’t write his way out of a paper sack.

They learn to focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done.

Here he’s talking about productive people—and he’s one of them, I’m sure—and their busy lives. The problem happens because “they” refers to the people, and then “they” refers to the “important tasks” in the same sentence.

I’ve been thinking about how to make his concept clearer, and have a couple of possibilities.

Productive people learn to focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done.

That’s a little better.

Or how about:

Productive people learn to focus on their most important tasks. Once those tasks are completed, then and only then do they move on.

I guess I’ll have to think about it a little more, but do watch your pronouns and focus on them, because otherwise they’ll confuse your readers and make them go away.

 

 

March 2017 Quiz with ANSWERS!

  1. Relax and enjoy Florida at it’s finest in this one-of-a kind amazing home.

Ick. It’s its, not it’s; the last hyphen is missing in “one-of-a-kind”; and “amazing” and “one-of-a-kind” are coordinate nouns and so need a comma between them.

2. Its a combination of hardware and software.

Double ick. Its is the possessive of it, and it’s is the contraction of it is or it has. This was flagged by Word as worthy of a second look, and only a fool totally ignores Word. Ahem.

3. Clark Construction Group’s seismic renovations help Ventura County Medical Center ensures facility will stand up to quakes.

Excuse me? How about “ensure its”? That’s the only way this makes sense. Sloppy.

4. Your team is paramount in ensuring your business run as efficiently as possible.

Your business runs.

5. For those writers willing to commit to a regular weekly piece of content, we offer the perk of being featured on the Contributor Sidebar of our blog home page.

Homepage is one word. Perk, smerk.

6. We simply require that all writers commit to write with some sort of frequency and that all articles are submitted to our editor by noon they day before they’re set to be published.

So, you “simply require”? How ’bout editing your own writing you pompous so-and-so?

7. Regardless, our goal is to provide each individual with the resources and support they need to find their own success — whether that’s quitting a job to invest or simply creating additional passive income.

“Each individual” is singular, and so can’t have a plural pronoun.

8. I am the Founder and CEO of XYZ. I created this site in 2004 to create a place where investors could learn, network, market and make deals in a safe online environment..

Well, Mr. Founder, why are there two periods at the end of this sentence, and why did you use “created” and “create” in one sentence? Yuck.

9. I’ve been interviewed, quoted, and referenced by top media outlets including: The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, CBS News Radio, The Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, US News & World Report, and more.

So you say. Never put a colon after includes, include, or included. Plus, where are your italics on those titles? Plus, let’s all get out of the habit of using “including” plus “and more” or “to name a few,” or whatever. “Including” has already alerted your reader that you aren’t listing every little thing.

10. Additionally, some of my articles from the XYZ blog can be found syndicated on Reuters, Fox Business News, Chicago Sun-Times, etc..

Oh, yeah? If you’re so smart, how come you’ve got two periods at the end of (another) sentence?

11. With financial barriers removed now that you have plenty of available credit from the previous day’s exercise you’ll be encouraged to sign up for the advanced course where you’ll supposedly learn everything you need to know to get rich in real estate.

Gee, let’s sprinkle in a few commas into this impenetrable mess.

12. Unfortunately, the guru you were so excited to see probably won’t even be there because these extras are usually coordinated by their other students.

“The guru” is singular, while “they” is plural; no can do, my friends.

13. Before signing up for any course take 5 minutes to Google the guru and get both positive and negative feedback so you can make an informed decision.

“Google the guru”? What a joke. And, again, a comma or two is desperately needed in this awful prose.

14. When was the last time you showed a coworker, employee, referral partner, or investor how grateful you were for their help?

Here’s the deal here: When you have items joined by “or,” the last noun dictates the form of the verb and any subsequent pronouns. “Investor” is singular, so you’ve got to use “his or her,” or pluralize the whole thing.

15. This area is also very equestrian Friendly and many of the homes have beautiful staples and hangers.

Told you real estate professionals can’t write! Um, it’s “stables.” And, you hang dresses on hangers, but planes go in “hangars.” Plus, why in the world is “Friendly” capitalized? Last time I looked, it’s not a proper noun.

16. Explain what the member will learn from your presentation – why should they come to your presentation?

“Member.” One member. Singular. “They” is a plural pronoun. Boo!

17. These small cardboard boxes have been distributed Sunday School.

Well, I suppose a case could be made that “Sunday School” is a proper noun phrase. I still don’t like it.

18. Finally, even though a new member is still developing their relationships in the chapter, they still have a whole network behind them!

“New member”—singular. “Their,” “they,” and “them” (they hit ’em all, didn’t they?!) are plural pronouns. Hiss!!

19. Once a pattern is identified as a problem, practitioners must now breakdown that pattern to find the root cause of the dysfunction.

Huge mistake. “Breakdown” is the noun; “break down” is the verb.

20. Please call us at 1-888-874-2004 Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:30 PM PST.

This is a style mistake. You can’t use “am” (wrong on all counts), though you can use “PM,” but you sure can’t use them both in the same content.

21. Player’s are more powerful, more athletic and better equipped at an earlier age to perform at the highest levels while older players are extending their careers at incredibly high performance levels.

An ugly sentence all around, but the real glaring mistake is to try to create a plural with an apostrophe + “s.” There are three times you can do that, and this ain’t one of them. (Does anyone remember the three times?)

22. On the Miami-Dade PD range, run by range master, Steve Mesa, the cast of Miami Vice is taught weapon handling and shooting by Mesa and Mick Gould.

I would rewrite this sentence, but, at a minimum, “Steve Mesa” is not, not, not parenthetical information, so that first comma in front of his name is wrong.

Bonus: What’s the #1 misspelled word in the Sarasota, Florida, Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?

Easy. It’s compliment. You see sentences like “The cabinets compliment the countertops” all the time.

The way I remember the difference between the two is that the one with “I” in the middle is “‘I’ compliment you.”

The one with the “e” in the middle is to “complete”—notice that last “e.” Whatever it takes!

I’m intolerant…I admit it!

I’m on a couple of “best-selling author” mailing lists, and, I’m telling you what…they send me incorrect copy at their peril. I especially don’t like an “international best-selling author” who sends me copy that’s TIME-SENSITIVE with a nasty typo, like this one:

On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 7:29 AM, Michael Hyatt <michael@michaelhyatt.com> wrote:



Liz Coursen,
If you’ve got a big book idea that won’t leave you alone, listen up…
For 3 DAYS ONLY, I’m opening up private registration to Get Published, my digital course that will help you successfully write, publish, and launch a book.
Registration for this course is actually closed to the public. And I’m planning to keep it closed until some time in 2018.
But every once in awhile, I offer private enrollment to a small, select group of my tribe because I don’t want people who REALLY need this information to have to delay their publishing dreams on account of my schedule.
And based on what you’ve told me you’re interested in, I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss this for two reasons:
1. Registration is only open for a short time — now through Thursday, April 13th
2. I’m ALSO taking $50 off the price — so you can have 24/7, lifetime access to Get Published for $297 instead of $347.
**************
The subject line read: calling all aspiring authors [time sensitive]
Find the misspelled word! I’m not talking about the double hyphen in the #1 thing, though that is a thing (which you can’t see because WordPress auto-corrects it); nope, I’m talking about an adverb that should be a noun.
Blaa, blaa, blaa…don’t send me stuff about how great a writer you are and tell me to “listen up” and then have a misspelled word in your come-on. I find it, well, irksome.

A few words about hyphens.

Most of the time, you hyphenate a compound adjective when it precedes the noun it modifies, like so:

I need a full-time assistant.

You do not hyphenate a compound adjective when it follows the noun it modifies, like this:

I need an assistant full time.

So, my friends, this is incorrect:

You don’t have to hire an executive assistant full-time to see results quickly.

It even sounds different: a full-time assistant; an assistant full time. You can hear the difference.

However, I would write it like this, for clarity:

You don’t have to hire a full-time executive assistant to see results quickly.

In fact, I think you can say this: Even New York Times best-selling authors could benefit from hiring top-quality editorial talent.

Just sayin’.