Saturday, December 6, 2008

PUGS Pointers #5: PUGS Can Be Embarrassing

PUGS* Pointers
(*Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling)
by Kathy Ide

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling (“PUGS”). She also explains why it’s important for writers to polish their PUGS.

Each article in this column will address one item in each area. For more PUGS Pointers or to purchase her Polishing the PUGS book, see Kathy Ide’s Web site.

PUGS Pointers are based on the current industry-standard references in the United States.

For books:
The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition, © 2003)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, © 2003)

For articles:
The Associated Press Stylebook (© 2004)
Webster’s New World College Dictionary (© 2002)

Many publishing houses have their own in-house style guides that may differ in some aspects from the standard references. However, unless you’re writing exclusively for one particular publisher, it’s best to follow the standard references and let the in-house proofreaders adjust to house style.


PUGS errors can be embarrassing.

A friend of mine once picked up a book at a bookstore and noticed a PUGS error on the back cover. When she reported it to our critique group, she didn’t say she’d found a mistake on a book published by “XYZ Publishers.” She said she found the mistake on a “Jane Doe” novel. She didn’t connect the error to the publishing house, but to the author.

Many readers, especially avid ones, are familiar with the rules of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. If your reader knows the rules, and you don’t, that’s going to make you look bad.


Terms of Endearment
Terms of affection (honey, dear, sweetheart) are lowercased.

(See The Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition, #8.39 and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style page 112.)


every day/everyday
every day is a combination of an adjective and a noun, synonymous with “each day.”
“Daisy wrote 2000 words every day.”

everyday is an adjective, which means it describes a noun.
“For Debbie, writing was an everyday activity.”


that vs. who
That refers to animals and things.
“The dog that bit me chased the Frisbee that I threw.”

Who refers to people.
“The man who bought Yvonne flowers was handsome.”


grown-up (with a hyphen, both noun and adjective)


Kathy Ide has been writing for publication since 1988. She has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. She is a full-time freelance editor, offering a full range of editorial services for aspiring writers, established authors, commercial book publishers, subsidy publishers, and magazines. Her services include proofreading, copyediting, substantive/content editing, coauthoring, ghostwriting, and mentoring/coaching. She also speaks at writers conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network and the Christian Editor Network. To find out more, please visit Kathy's Web site.

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