Tag Archive - editing tips

This Blog Comprises Three Short Paragraphs

Okay, this is going to be a short but concise post here. Repeat after me: “The whole comprises the parts . . . the whole comprises the parts.”

Writers always mess up with comprise. The word does not mean compose. You cannot say “it is comprised of.” Sorry, can’t. A house comprises six rooms. My novel comprises eighteen chapters. This blog comprises fifty-two entries for the year. Okay, some say the word has evolved and now it’s acceptable to use comprise to mean “compose,” but as Merriam-Webster says: “You may be subject to critcism if you do so.” Heaven forbid someone criticizes your misuse of comprise!

Now, my bicycle is composed of various metals like aluminum and steel. Or I could say my cheesecake is made up of ten different ingredients. This may sound odd to your ear, but this is the correct way to use comprise. Comprende?

To Italicize or Not to Italicize? A Rule of Thumb

Writers need to know what types of terms are put in italics.

Think in terms of relative size. Shorter works are not italicized but go in quotes. A short story would be in quotes, but a short story anthology with many stories would have an italicized title. Songs, poems, unpublished works, articles are in quotes. An epic poem is in italics, though, so I suppose it’s up to you to decide if it’s sufficiently long enough to merit the italics.

Here’s a partial list of the things that need to be italicized:

• Titles of photographs
• Titles of art exhibits
• Titles of blogs (the main title used each time, not the web url)
• Title of podcast programs
• Title of a painting
• Title of a book
• Title of a movie
• Title of a play
• Title of a pamphlet or report
• Title of a music album or CD
• A foreign term (if you use it repeatedly, only italicize it the first time. Do not italicize a foreign name like Fifi LaPlant or a foreign city or street name.)

Note: the name of a website is just in regular headline style: “I like to browse Technium.com for new tech tips.”

Are You Coordinating?

I think one of the more subtle problems in punctuation is understanding a coordinate adjective and when to use a comma. It’s up to you to determine if the adjectives describing a noun are coordinate or “equal” in their description. If so, you need a comma. A trick to figuring out if you need a comma is to say the sentence a different way. Here’s what I do:

First, the sentence: I have a thick wide green book.

I then say, “I have a book that is green, wide, and thick.” Wide and thick are similar adjectives, but green describes the book in a different manner. In fact, I have a green book that is thick and wide. That means I would punctuate the sentence like this:

“I have a thick, wide green book.” You don’t want to separate the noun from the immediate adjective with a comma. Continue Reading…

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