January 16 2013


by Barbie in Style

We have fielded a few emails recently asking about what style guides we are familiar with. Here’s the list:

  • AMA
  • AP
  • APA
  • Chicago
  • MLA

Whether you’re writing a short essay, dissertation, journal manuscript, or conference proposal, we can ensure that your document follows proper style. Our comprehensive editing services include a check for style. Just tell us what style guide your following — though we can usually figure it out — and we’ll check and double check all things style!

April 26 2012

Editing a list of references

by Barbie in Research, Style

Admit it: Your list of references can be a pain. Compiling all of the sources you used during your research and then finding all sorts of information for each source — from the editors and translators to the publisher, location, and year — is a time-consuming task. There are bound to be some mistakes in this tedious work. That’s why it’s important to have an editor who knows your style guide meticulously review your list of references.

Here are some of the things we check when we’re editing references:

  • Do the links work? We copy and paste every link into a web browser to ensure it’s up to date.
  • Are the right number of authors listed? Each style guide has different rules for how to list authors. We make sure they’re correct.
  • Is the source reputable? Anonymous blog posts and sites like Wikipedia aren’t reliable sources of information.
  • Is all of the right information included for each source? For example, journal articles require an article title, journal title, volume and issue numbers, page numbers, and often a URL.
  • Is the information formatted properly? APA calls for book titles to be italicized and sentence case, while journal articles are normal text and sentence case. Journal titles are italicized and title case. Confused yet?

A lot can go wrong in a list of references. We can make sure your sources are right. We know AMA, AP, APA, MLA, and Chicago. Contact us today!

June 25 2011

Writing in a technological age

by Barbie in Style

As I renewed my annual subscription to the AP Stylebook recently, I noticed some interesting changes in AP standards. AP Style has eliminated the hyphen from “email,” and words like “cellphone” and “smartphone” are now one word. Different style guides have different standards for such technological terms, so it can be hard to keep up. In fact, some clients I work for use “website” as one word, while others use “Web site,” two words and initial capped.

Now that these terms are staples in our lexicon, we might find style guides agreeing on how to spell these words. Or, we can at least hope we do. In the meantime, we have to refer to our trusty style guides or dictionaries to find the right way to format these terms.

April 28 2011

APA refresher

by Barbie in Style

It’s the end of the semester, which means we’re busy working on last-minute theses and dissertations for our clients as they prepare for their defense and graduation. Since most of the students we work with use APA, we thought we’d do a quick blog post that provides some useful APA formatting tips:

  • Set off quotations that have more than 40 words from the rest of the paragraph in a separate, uniformly indented paragraph. Do not include quotation marks around the block quote.
  • Include page numbers for all direct quotes in the in-text citation. For example: (Carpenter, 2011, p. 50). Note the space between “p.” and the page number.
  • Include one space between sentences if you are using APA 5th edition. Include two spaces between sentences if you are using APA 6th edition. Some students might have started their theses or dissertations before the 6th edition came out with this change, so many advisers are allowing students to adhere to the 5th-edition rule. Check with your adviser to be sure.
February 15 2011

Great APA resource

by Barbie in Style, Writing

The Purdue OWL is one of my favorite style and grammar sites. It provides a comprehensive collection of style tips for students, whether you’re using MLA, APA, or Chicago, as well as plenty of resources for job-search writing.

Today, as I was editing a client’s midterm for a graduate course, I logged on to the Purdue OWL site to double check some APA items. Though my APA manual is my trusty resource, I like to double check things here because the website is easily searchable, allowing me to find answers instantly. I came across this detailed Sample APA Paper, which breaks down basic APA formatting in an easy-to-understand way. Reading through this paper is a must for anyone who is new to APA — or anyone who needs a quick refresher on basic APA guidelines.

July 3 2010

Update: A style guide for web writing

by Barbie in Style

Earlier this spring, we talked about the much-anticipated Yahoo! Style Guide for writing on the web. Now, it’s out, and Yahoo! appears to be developing a comprehensive online resource for web writers as well. Check it out.

We’re impressed with the breadth of the site—there’s everything from tips on headline writing to ways to improve the SEO for your site. Editors will enjoy the Editing 101 section of the site, which seems to be a useful tool for quick answers on editing.

It remains to be seen whether people, organizations, and companies will adopt Yahoo’s style suggestions—especially since many of these groups have their own style standards or follow more traditional style guides. For the time being, however, the site serves as another good resource for both web writers and editors.

June 17 2010

APA Style changes in 2010

by Barbie in Style

Long-time users of APA Style noticed a few significant changes in the sixth edition, which was released earlier this year. These changes create a bit of confusion for many of our clients, who may have started writing their dissertations following the fifth edition but now have to consider implementing sixth-edition changes before they defend and graduate.

In particular, two changes will impact every document you write:

Heading levels.

APA’s sixth edition standardized heading levels, which was a relief to writers and editors alike. Rather than using different heading styles depending on the number of headings in a paper, APA now calls for writers to use standard heading levels whether they have two or five levels in their document. The APA Style Blog does a good job of explaining these new heading standards here.

Spaces between sentences.

APA has returned to two spaces between sentences in its sixth edition. APA explained that this change eases reader comprehension, making text easier to follow.

So, if you’re starting a new document using APA Style, keep these updates in mind. As always, we can help you with any style questions, so don’t hesitate to contact us!

May 14 2010

Editors help you stay in style

by Barbie in Editing, Formatting, Style

Earlier this week, we talked about how editors help to make a document consistent. Similarly, we also ensure that your document is formatted properly according to your style guide. In an academic paper, this means checking heading levels, the table of contents, page numbering, and more. For marketing pieces or brochures, we ensure that formatting techniques like headings and bullets and used properly. No matter what type of document you develop, correct formatting and proper style are important.

Here are some formatting/style issues that editors can help with:

Table of Contents.

In Microsoft Word, students should assign formatting styles to their headings so that they can automatically generate a Table of Contents. For those unfamiliar with Word’s Styles and Formatting tools, this can be confusing. We can help develop the Table of Contents in any document.

Works Cited.

When you’re finished writing, the last thing you want to deal with is your works cited page. We can check your references to ensure they comply with your style guide.

Parenthetical citations.

Do you include the author’s last name in the parenthetical citation? Is there a comma between the last name and year of publication? How do you deal with an article by multiple authors? We check your parenthetical references against your style guide—and your Works Cited page to verify accuracy.

April 11 2010

A style guide for web writing

by Barbie in Style

We were intrigued by the news that Yahoo! is releasing a style guide this summer, offering guidelines for writing on the web.

Check out the limited information on the guide here.

AP Style offers some guidelines for online publication, and news websites almost exclusively follow AP standards whether they’re publishing in print or online. It will be interesting to see if AP expands its online guidelines now that Yahoo! is releasing its style guide.

Even though news organizations might not adopt Yahoo’s guide, plenty of websites could use some writing guidance. Web writing can be a tricky subject, and there certainly aren’t universal standards for the web. After all, we can’t even agree whether it’s “website,” “Web site,” or “web site.” So, there is certainly a market—and a large one, at that—that needs a set of web writing standards.

We’re excited to check out the book in July. Will you be getting a copy?

While we’re on the subject, be sure to check out our tips for web writing.

December 17 2009

Consider quality, not quantity

by Barbie in Style, Writing

Unfortunately, my regular blog posts have fallen by the wayside thanks to end-of-the-semester projects, the busy holiday season and, most importantly, a new ongoing editing project. In addition to my freelance work with my regular clients, I am copy editing articles for a number of websites. These articles follow a thorough style guide, part of which requires the writers to adhere to a specific word count. As some writers will tell you, word counts can be a blessing or a curse.

Word counts are a great way to focus your article. A 2,000-word article will be much more detailed and have many more references than a 400-word overview. While word counts can guide your research and outlining, they can also leave writers counting words rather than focusing on the quality of their content.

As an editor, it’s easy to spot when writers are trying to meet a word count. Excessive use of vague, fluffy words like “very” or “really” and too many passive sentences are my first clues. I also look for repetition or sentences that state the same thing in a different way.

It’s important to follow your document’s style guidelines and meet the word count. However, quality always takes precedence over quality. If a writer is 50 words under the suggested word count, but her content is strong, I always let it slide. If you find yourself well under your word count, then go back to the drawing board, and identify any gaps in your research.