Friday, January 9, 2009

Pugs Pointers #7: Less PUGS Errors, More Recommendations

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, see Kathy Ide’s Web site: Or get her book Polishing the PUGS, available at

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 affect the sales of your book.

Readers who find a lot of mistakes in your book will not be as likely to recommend that book to their friends. And who knows? You may have a high school English teacher reading your book, and she just might recommend it to her students . . . unless there are a lot of PUGS errors in it.


Quotation Marks with Other Punctuation
1. Closing quotation marks always come after a comma or period.
ACFW held workshops on “Characterization,” “Point of View,” and “Floating Body Parts.”

2. Placement with question marks and exclamation points depends on whether the punctuation is part of the sentence as a whole or part of the quotation in particular. Examples:
Candy asked, “Do you know the way?”
How can we motivate teenagers who continually say, “I don’t care”?
Tiffany shouted, “Fire!”
I can’t believe he said, “Your story is boring”!

(See The Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition, #6.8–6.9 and
The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style 14th edition pp. 344–345)


foreword (noun) is a page or two of comments at the beginning of a book.

forward (adverb, adjective) means “in front,” “toward the front.”
forward (noun) is a player on a sports team who tries to score points in a game.


couple vs. couple of
Use couple alone when used as a noun.
“Robert and Mary made a cute couple.”

When used as a modifier, you need the of.
It’s never “a couple tomatoes.” Always “a couple of tomatoes.”


acknowledgment (not acknowledgement)


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 her Web site.

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1 comment:

AudreyO said...

Nice post. I'm an article writer. I have every article proofed before ever submitting them. I do not want people reading my grammatical errors.