Grammar Tips You Never Learned in School
Here are some very simple ways to make your writing more professional and easier to read. These examples use American English and are some of the most common errors I find when editing other writers’ work.
Always put a comma before the "and" or "or" in a series of three or more items.
Place a period or comma inside closing quotation marks. Other forms of punctuation go outside the quotation marks.
We are past the age of the typewriter! You now can use an en dash or em dash instead of that pesky old hyphen (as in -- ).
Here’s how to do it on a PC keyboard:
Use which, preceded by a comma, to set off a clause that provides additional but unnecessary information.
Example: Go to the second house on the left, which has blue trim. (If the words following the comma were not there, the sentence would mean the same thing.)
Use that, without a comma, in a clause that is important to the meaning of the sentence.
Example: Go to the second house on the left that has blue trim. (If you take away “that has blue trim,” the sentence means a totally different thing.)
You assure people . . . ensure things . . . and insure
Irregardless is not a standard English word. Use regardless instead.
It's is a contraction for it is. Its is the possessive form of it.
Example: Its surface is rough and it’s going to need a lot of sanding.
When in doubt, don’t capitalize.
Don't capitalize things like page 12, item 11, figure 5, section 8, and room 14.
Little words in titles sometimes need to be capitalized.
Make sure that items in a bulleted list are parallel, meaning that each item is constructed similarly and begins with the same kind of word (noun, verb, etc.).
Every business should follow the style set forth by an accepted style guide (and should also create an internal style guide). Here are some of the most widely used style guides:
(Mountain Standard Time)