Editors’ Most Hated Mistakes – Part 2

Editors’ Most Hated MistakesAs promised, we’ve compiled a new crop of editing nightmares for those who share the frustration. These cringe-inducing habits are the literary equivalent of socks and sandals. Seeing them can render even the most verbose wordsmith speechless (and they always have something wise to say). Without further ado, here they are in no particular order. Kindly do not follow suit.

Saying till Instead of until

Reactions to this one include, “Woooow,” “Really?” “Are you serious?” and “Are you #%$&ing kidding me?”

Is that a little bit too harsh? Too bad. It’s not even wrong, it’s just unsightly. Whether it’s informal or formal (but especially if it’s formal), don’t do this. It ruins the whole body of writing. The only instance where this is OK is in colloquial dialogue for the sake of effect.

Incessant Use of that

Gahhhhh! Although this is also very nit-picky, editors will know the pain. For some reason, people throw in thats so as to fill space or make writing less awkward. Well, guess what? You sound even more awkward. Communication should be simple and clear. Eliminate excess wherever you can.

The sun that shone bright woke up the dog that was sleeping in front of the window that was open.

Drop them all! And you get this:

The sun shone bright, waking up the dog sleeping in front of the open window.

This may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Unnecessary Quotation Marks

Again, some people like to put random words in quotes that really shouldn’t be there. Perhaps they do this when they’re unsure of how to present the word. Clearly, when in doubt, people just add quotes.

He ate lunch at a salad “bar.”

She thought the “hors d’oeuvres” were too salty.

What? Why? Quotation marks around single words are used when it’s a specific reference to something or to show the way someone specifically referred to something:

According to the experts, his delivery was “uncalled for.”

The company was given a “pass” rating on their latest evaluation.

Don’t just use them if the word is foreign or you’re unsure of what to do with it.

And, if you want to emphasize a word in your writing, italicize it, underline it, place it in all caps — but for the love of god, don’t place it within quotation marks. And worst of all, don’t substitute the double quotation mark for the single quotation mark (’). It’s even worse, and wrong. Reserve those for quotes within quotes, and apostrophes. Please.