Monthly Archives: August 2010

Erika on the Top Ten Copyediting Mistakes

The following is a guest post from Associate Editor-Copy Manager Erika Spelman on the top ten copyediting mistakes that appear in our manuscripts.

Being asked to write a post on the top ten copyediting mistakes can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is nice to be recognized for expertise in copyediting. On the other hand (horrors!), what if someone finds an error in the post? Let me know if you catch anything and, as we say at AMACOM, perhaps I can correct it in reprint.

I polled others in the department–my supervisor Andy Ambraziejus and colleagues Jim Bessent and Michael Sivilli–for the most common errors they encounter. Here are the top ten mistakes we came up with:

1. Using a plural pronoun (e.g., their) for a singular antecedent (e.g., company or everyone).

Incorrect: This company treats their employees well.
Correct: This company treats its employees well.

Incorrect: Everyone had their share.
Correct: Everyone had his or her share.

2. Overusing he or she and similar forms.

Correct: Everyone had his or her share.
Creative: Everyone had a fair share.

3. Confusing that and which. That is restrictive–it introduces a defining piece of information about the noun being described. Which is nonrestrictive–it introduces parenthetical information that could be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. Generally, which is preceded by a comma.

The company that treated its employees well won an award. (There are many companies being discussed, and the one that treated its employees well won an award.)

The company, which treated its employees well, won an award.
(The one company being discussed won an award, and it happened to treat its employees well.)

4. Using a comma between parts of a compound predicate as opposed to using it to separate two independent clauses.

Incorrect: The company treated its employees well, and won an award.
Correct: The company treated its employees well and won an award.
Correct: The company treated its employees well, and it won an award.

5. Hyphenating prefixes. The current editions of Webster’s dictionary and The Chicago Manual of Style stipulate that words formed with prefixes such as re-, pre-, post-, and a host of others are not hyphenated except where ambiguity would result (whatever your spell check may tell you).

Correct: preemployment
Correct: postmarketing
But: re-creation (as distinct from recreation, which means something else)

6. Not hyphenating compound modifiers preceding a noun.

Incorrect: The employee centered company won an award.
Correct: The employee-centered company won an award.

7. Hyphenating compound modifiers appearing after a noun.

Incorrect: The company was employee-centered.
Correct: The company was employee centered.

8. Hyphenating certain compounds such as decision making and risk taking when they are used as nouns rather than modifiers.

Incorrect: The manager excelled at decision-making.
Correct: The manager excelled at decision making.
Correct: The manager had excellent decision-making skills.

9. Using while to mean although or whereas.

10. Neglecting to make list items parallel.
For example, all of the items in this list begin with gerunds.

Thanks Erika!

And whoever finds a copyediting error in this post gets a free copy of The AMA Handbook of Business Writing!


Webinar: How to Be a Communication Problem Solver

Our American Management Association New Media Team will be doing a webinar with Nannette Rundle Carroll, author of The Communication Problem Solver, next month. She’ll be sharing 5 powerful techniques for taking control of your communications.

How to Be a Communication Problem Solver
September 23, 2010, 1:00PM – 2:30 PM
Price: $149

5 Powerful Techniques for Taking Control of Your Communications

How you communicate on a daily basis affects your career success.

When you deliberately take the initiative to make every communication cooperative and clear, you can enjoy successful relationships and accomplish more of your goals.

This Webinar explores simple yet powerful techniques that can turn you into a people “magnet” and make others want to work with you. In addition, you’ll see how you can use these tactics to cope with difficult situations and deflect others’ antagonistic comments.

During this Webinar you’ll learn five techniques to take charge of your interpersonal relationships, deal with cranky people, and develop the reputation as the person with whom people want to work.

In 90 minutes, you’ll discover powerful tips and techniques for:

* Exiting the Judgment Box: Negative judgments derail problem solving and damage relationships and reputations. Break the habit and infuse your life with positive energy that gets you the results you want.
* Preventing and Solving People Problems at Work: Learn how to resolve common people problems, invigorate relationships and work collaboratively.
* Stopping Miscommunication in its Tracks: Ways to tighten up your listening skills and tactics for asking clarifying questions to sharpen your understanding in every situation.
* Keeping conversations on point: Ways to stay focused on the main topic so that you don’t get caught in detours that can side-track the purpose of your discussions.
* Sustaining Positive Communications: Advice for remaining positive and collaborative, even in the face of unpleasantness.

With these tools, you can prevent and solve most misunderstandings before they explode into ongoing conflict. Remember that whether you’re dealing with family, friends, or colleagues, you are the catalyst for good communication and relationships.

This program shows you how.

Click HERE to sign up for the webinar.

For more information on The Communication Problem Solver click HERE.

Nannette Rundle Carroll
is a popular speaker, management trainer, and communications consultant. She is also a top-rated faculty member with the American Management Association and author of The Communication Problem Solver.

Webinar: How to Write a Darn Good Email

Our American Management Association new media team will be doing a webinar with Phillip Vassallo, author of How to Write Fast Under Pressure, next month. He will be sharing how to write concise, efficient and engaging emails.

How to Write a Darn Good Email
September 21, 2010
1:00pm – 2:30pm
Price: $149.00

Ensuring That What You Write Is What You Mean

E-mail demands clear and efficient writing, but “oops” is an all-too-common occurrence.

We’ve all seen how easily misunderstandings in e-mail messages can compromise clear communication.

Attend this helpful Webinar to get a fast-paced, hands-on lesson to strengthen your e-writing skills.

Through examples and exercises, you will learn how to target your audience, get to the point, and develop and maintain a professional e-mail style.

How You Will Benefit

* Write clear, concise mail that gets readers’ attention and results
* Convey a professional image through the e-mail you send
* Identify tone problems before pressing “send”
* Gain e-mail pointers to help you project communication savvy

What Will be Covered

* Understanding challenges of email communication
* Getting started quickly: idea lists, the three As (aim, audience, area)
* Getting to the point: strong subject lines, openings and closings
* Structuring your message clearly
* Helpful guidelines for structuring your message
* Maintaining a professional tone by recognizing what is and is not appropriate for e-communications
* Polishing your e-mail for a professional style for yourself and your organization

Because so many of your communications are via email, this is a great chance for you to spend a short time learning how to do it better.

Click HERE to sign up for the webinar.

For more information on How to Write Fast Under Pressure click HERE.

Philip Vassallo, Ph.D., has developed, delivered and supervised communication training programs and coached a wide range of administrative and technical professionals in corporate, government and academic environments. For 19 years, Dr. Vassallo was the marketing director of Lifespire, a New York City human services organization. He has taught writing at Cornell University, Rutgers University, Kean University, Centenary College, and Middlesex County College. Dr. Vassallo is the author and coauthor of many books including The Art of On-the-Job Writing and The Art of E-Mail Writing. He is also a columnist on effective writing and education issues for the Educational Testing Service and

Soundview Webinar: 7 Ways to Maximize Your Profits

Brian Tracy, renowned speaker and co-author of Now, Build a Great Business! will be doing a webinar with Soundview, next week. He’ll be sharing how to leverage your entrepreneurial spirit to forge relationships, earn higher profits, and get the most out of your business.

7 Ways to Maximize Your Profiits
September 21, 2010, 12:00PM
Price: $29.95

No matter what industry you’re in or what economic conditions you are facing, you can still build a phenomenally successful business.

In this Soundview Live webinar, international success expert Brian Tracy will reveal seven powerful principles that will change your business significantly. He will also provide examples of businesses of all kinds that are applying these methods to achieve remarkable profits in today’s economy.

Click HERE to sign up for the webinar.

For more information on Now, Build a Great Business! click HERE.

Brian Tracy is a top business speaker, author, and consultant, addressing more than 250,000 people worldwide each year. He has written 45 books, including How the Best Leaders Lead and Reinvention and produced more than 400 audio and video learning programs.

Spotlight on… Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon

One of our titles has received a good response from the online community, so this week we thought we’d put our spotlight on Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization by Leonardo Inghilleri and Michah Solomon.

Blog Business World said this in its review:

Read the brilliant customer experience book Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization by Micah Solomon and Leonardo Inghilleri, and turn your company into the gold standard of service excellence for your industry, with your focus placed on your customers. This book will transform your company culture, build powerful customer engagement and loyalty, increase your business profitability, and help you to out distance your competition.

INC. Magazine said this:

The chapter on anticipating customer needs starts strong with “aha”-type examples (why don’t restaurants keep reading material on hand for solitary diners and retail outlets proffer cups of ice water on hot days?)

All Business Answers had this to say in its review:

No matter how good you think you are doing it right now, you owe it to yourself to read this book…They know what they are talking about when it comes to providing good customer service. Even better, they are really good at showing you how you can improve your own service levels…will challenge the norms you have accepted for customer service…this book will both inspire you and show you how to do it.

800 CEO Read said this in its review:

…Inghilleri and Solomon explain what’s necessary to create a culture of good customer service, offering fundamental truths that aren’t just trendsetting tips, but timeless points to learn from again and again…Reading Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit and implementing any part of it will get you bounds closer to creating positive experiences with the people who give you money.

SBC Fulfilment said in its review:

Great advice from some world class companies….pages contain golden nuggets for companies big and small…a must read. Highly recommended.

Leonardo Inghilleri is Executive Vice President and Managing Partner of West Paces Consulting. A recognized expert on service, Inghilleri created The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center and Learning Institute and has played an instrumental role at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, BVLGARI, and The Walt Disney Company.

Micah Solomon is Founder and President of Oasis Disc Manufacturing, a leader in the entertainment and technology industries. A sought-after business advisor and speaker, his techniques and achievements have been featured in Success magazine, Seth Godin’s bestseller Purple Cow, and other publications.