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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 can be distracting.

If I’m reading a book, no matter how good the content or story might be, if there are too many mistakes in punctuation, usage, grammar, or spelling, it’s tough for me to get past those enough to concentrate on the book. I have been known to stop reading a book, and put it back on the shelf, if I find too many errors. And there are other readers like me out there. Don’t let PUGS problems distract readers from your message or your story.


Descriptive Phrases

When a plural noun ending in s is used to modify another noun, use an apostrophe without an added s. No apostrophe in proper names that do not use one. Examples:
a teachers’ college
a writers’ conference
writers’ guidelines
Publishers Weekly
Diners Club


aisle (noun) is a passage, as in “We met in the grocery store aisle.
isle (noun) is an island, as in “We spent our honeymoon on a tropical isle.”


more than vs. over

More than is used with figures (numbers).
More than one thousand people bought Vickie’s book.”

Over refers to spatial relationships.
“The football soared over the receiver’s head.”



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