Editing · Formatting · Writing

Writing Mistakes at the Sentence Level

I’ve noticed lately that I comment on a lot of the same issues when doing line edits, so I decided to make a short list of the common issues I spot while editing or reading. The issues below are tips to keep in mind when you tackle line edits. They are issues I spot and bring up with clients all the time and even sometimes spot them slipping past edits in published books. Keeping an eye out for the below will help strengthen your sentences.

Shaking Versus Nodding: When a character shakes their head, it means no. Nodding means yes. Too often characters shake heads to mean yes or nod no and it confuses the reader.

Repetitive Wording: If a character nods, it’s assumed they are nodding their head because what else are they going to nod? Same with shrugging. Stick to a concise nod or shrug instead of the longer and more repetitive, “She nodded her head.” Continue reading “Writing Mistakes at the Sentence Level”

Editing · Formatting · Grammar · Writing

Toward/Towards: Which One to Use?

I’ve often seen authors get confused over which form to use when it comes to toward and towards. I know I had to look it up when I first started writing. Seeing both forms being used in books and on the Internet only seems to confuse writers more on which one they should be using. I notice people around me often use towards in speech. Heck, even I notice myself using this form.

Technically both forms are correct. Which one you use depends on where you live and what style guide you follow. If you are American, you’ll want to use toward. For you style guide sticklers, both Chicago and AP style use toward. But if you use British English, you’ll use towards.

Other words act similarly in American vs. British English. Similar examples include afterward, downward, upward, backward, and forward. In American English they lose the s, and in British English you add the s. Be careful about sticking to only one form. I see authors switch between toward and towards when they aren’t sure which one they should be using. If you’re worried about this, when you’re editing do a search for the form you don’t want to use and replace it with the correct one.


Editing · Formatting · Writing

How To Format The Ellipsis

Formatting the ellipsis can be tricky. Are there spaces before or after an ellipsis? Or none at all? Should it be spaced out or not? Well, the quick answer is it depends on which style guide you are using. Different style guides format the ellipsis differently, which can cause confusion since the ellipsis isn’t formatted the same across styles. In this post I’ll be focusing on AP and Chicago style since those are the most common style guides used for fiction and nonfiction books. Some publishing houses might use one or the other, or even a combination of the two.

According to Chicago Style, the ellipsis is preceded and followed by a space along with a space between each period.

Chicago: Move it that way some more . . . perfect.

Now in that example there is a space before, after, and in between each period. Now let’s see the same sentence in AP style, which doesn’t space the periods out.

AP: Move it that way some more … perfect.

In AP style, there are spaces before and after, but not in between the periods. To keep your formatting uniform, it’s a good idea to pick a style guide and follow it, so you would just follow the ellipsis spacing for your preferred style. Or you may follow Chicago, and prefer the ellipsis formatting of AP, which is fine. Now, publishing houses often have their own preferences on how to space the ellipsis. Some may not include any spaces at all, for example: Move it that way some more…perfect.

If you include any of the spaces around the ellipsis, then you may want to consider using nonbreaking spaces to keep the ellipsis from breaking across lines. You can insert a nonbreaking space in Microsoft word by hitting Ctrl+Shift+spacebar

If you are unsure of how to format the ellipsis in your manuscript, my advice is to pick a style guide and follow that formatting. Don’t worry about it beyond that. If a publishing house prefers to format their ellipsis differently than how you have them formatted in your manuscript, they will change the formatting. If you are a self-published author hiring an editor, then let your editor know which way you prefer the ellipsis to be formatted if you have a specific preference so that they don’t change the formatting. If you wish to use the ellipsis button in Microsoft Word, hit Ctrl+Alt+.