I am a copy editor. That means I read what a smart person has written and fix the spelling, punctuation and sentence structure to make it even better. I’m like the doctors who worked on the Six Million Dollar Man, only with a red pen instead of a scalpel.
Since I just referenced a TV show from 45 years ago, you might guess how old I am and, therefore, how long I’ve been copy editing. Let’s just say I started before Google. (Back in the day, I had to call corporations to ask, “Is this how you spell this product’s name?”)
Despite my English degree and my many (many) years of thinking about spelling and grammar all day, if I’m stumped by something grammatical, I still don’t want anyone to say something like “object of the preposition” to explain it to me. If it makes me zone out, I’m going to hazard a guess that you don’t enjoy such technical explanations, either.
Nevertheless, you want to look good in that work email or PowerPoint presentation (or that humble-brag social post). I understand. That’s why I’ve started this series called How to Write Like You Know What You’re Doing. I offer you little tricks so you know you’re using the right word or punctuation mark. I’ve got a million of them.
Let’s start with my favorite.