Editors’ Most Hated Mistakes – Part 1

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Editors’ Most Hated Mistakes – Part 1

Editors’ Most Hated MistakesIf you’ve edited anything for an extended period of time, you’ll understand how infuriating the tiniest mistakes can be. You’ll also know that intense feeling of wanting to flip a table, punch a hole in a wall (or face) or destroy whatever device you’re editing on. Excessive use of profanity is a given.

The following is our first crop of editors’ most-hated instances of wrongdoing to the written word. Please, please, please don’t make these mistakes. You’ll make the world a better place in so many ways.

1. Wrong placement of quotation marks

“I like to do things my way”, Mark said.

NO! It’s painful to even write that for the sake of proving a point. That comma before Mark needs to be inside the quotation marks. Same goes for periods.

“I like to do things my way,” Mark said.

“They told me I was wrong,” Mark stated. “But I persisted regardless.”

2. Starting sentences with Ands and Buts

Don’t get me wrong, this is OK in moderation. Some people, however, like to start every single sentence with them.

But then the main point gets lost. And that takes away from the whole. But does it really matter that much?

The main point gets lost. It takes away from the whole. It does matter.

See how eliminating the buts and ands solidifies the statement? When you’re reading through your work, simply ask yourself: do I really need it? In most cases, the answer is no. Drop it. Your writing can certainly afford to lose the added weight.

3. Using Ellipses (…)

But wait, there’s more…Ellipses ahead…

It’s unclear why people insist on using these three consecutive periods in formal and professional writing. They should only be seen in emails and text messages.

Believe it or not, it’s okay to end a sentence with a period. While it’s not wrong to use ellipses on occasion, it’s tacky as hell. Especially in headlines. (Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t use them in headlines.) It has amateur and distasteful written all over it.

It looks more elegant if you use an em dash (¾) to separate ideas within the same sentence. Or a period at the end of a sentence telling you that something is coming. The only time to use ellipses is within a quote to mark off missing text that you’d rather not include, like so:

“Ellipses are reserved for rare instances, […] like this one.”

Stay tuned for more editorial hatred in our upcoming posts. There’s plenty more where this came from.

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