January 19, 2015

Creating Emphasis

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Great writers seem to have a natural talent for creating emphasis. Here are a few tips to give your writing the same well-placed punch.

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Some Common Editing Errors: Altar, Forgo, Palate
Posted by June on January 19, 2015
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When I copy edit an article, it’s always after another editor has read it. But that editor has a different job. He or she isn’t supposed to know every little thing about language and punctuation and word choice. Instead, he or she oversees the whole section – deciding what the stories will be, assigning them to writers, getting photos, and so on.

They’re not supposed to know everything about copy editing, but they know a lot. Or, I should say, most do. I have, in the past, worked with a couple (I’m thinking of one guy in particular) who weren’t really qualified for the job. And it showed. For example, the one guy I’m thinking of would send me an e-mail to let me know whenever a story was ready for me in the “cue.” He meant queue. He should have just said “folder.”

But even the good ones don’t know everything a copy editor does about word use, which is clear in the little errors they let slip by.

Here are a couple mistakes that editors -- good editors -- have missed recently.

“Forego” in place of “forgo.” If you’re talking about doing without something, do it without the E. The version that’s correctly spelled “forego” is so rare that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it used. Somewhere between 99% and 100% of the time, you want “forgo.”

“Eek” out a living. This error sneaked past several editors, including the one at my job who probably has the best copy editing skills there. Worse, it appeared in an article that we were reprinting from a well-known national magazine. So that "eek" had already showed up in print, then it got past my editor at work. It should have been “eke.”

“Alter,” “altar.” The publications I edit cover a wide and ever-changing range of topics, sometimes including wedding trends. I’ve seen confusion about "alter" and "altar" go both ways, with wedding stories that talk about a church’s “alter” and other stories that say you should “altar” your plans. Those are both wrong. The one in the church is an “altar,” to change is to “alter.”

“Palette,” “palate.” Confusion about these two is so common that I don’t expect anyone but copy editors to know the difference. “The menu is filled with creations to delight the palette.” Nope. That should be “palate,” a part of the mouth. The other one is about colors and color schemes, like an artist’s palette. A third spelling, pallet, is a wooden platform used to stack and move merchandise in a warehouse.

June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more

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