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Hi! I’m Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I’m blogging about “PUGS”–Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling…tips for writers based on the most common mistakes I see in the manuscripts I edit. Each blog post will have one tip for each of the four categories, as well as a reason it’s important for authors to “polish their PUGS.” (For more PUGS tips, check out my website,, or get a copy of my book “Polishing the PUGS” (available through the website or at the conferences where I teach). If you’re interested in working with a freelance editor (or know someone who is), e-mail me at Or go to to get referrals to other established, professional editorial freelancers. If you’re a freelance editor yourself, or think you might be interested in that field, check out


PUGS errors may cause readers to take you, and your message, less seriously.

On November 15, 2004, Ireland On-Line ran an article on their Web site with this title: “Crowe Turns Hero to Help Snake Bite Boy.” The story was about actor Russell Crowe helping a boy who’d been bitten by a snake. But by spelling snakebite as two words, this sentence implies that Mr. Crowe helped a snake bite a boy! Now, I got a good laugh out of that. But I sure don’t want those kinds of mistakes showing up in my own writing.

And take a look at this statement made in a major newspaper: “Officers found two rifles, a large bag of marijuana packaged for sale, a small scale, a bullet-proof vest and dozens of bullets in a sock.” If readers are giggling about the image of all these items being found in one enormous sock, they won’t be paying as much attention to the point of the article.


Terms of Respect
Honorific titles are capitalized. But general terms of respect are not. Examples:
His/Her/Your Majesty
His/Her/Your Excellency
Your Honor
my lord/my lady



farther refers to a measurable distance or space.
“The ball traveled ten yards farther. 

further indicates “greater in quantity, time, and degree” or “moreover.”
“Stanley wanted to discuss the problem further.


try and vs. try to

Try and should only be used when the subject is trying and doing something else.

“Three times Harry tried and failed to get his manuscript published.”

Always use try to when referring to something the subject tried to accomplish.

“Elizabeth is going to try to write her first draft in a week.”


The only time you could get away with “Elizabeth is going to try and write her first draft in a week” is if you’re writing this in dialogue and the character who’s speaking isn’t concerned with proper grammar.


by-product (with a hyphen)


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