Writers know that their stories come to light after the editing process. You tighten sentences, fix typos, look for flow and correct errors. There are plenty of words that can be confusing, and author Carolyn Howard-Johnson offers a list of “word trippers” – words that sound alike and words often confused or commonly misused.
This 54-page booklet includes word trippers like:
- alright / all right
anxious / eager
every day / everyday
further / farther
gage / gauge
lose / loose
to lie / to lay
peddling / pedaling
peaked / peeked / piqued
setup / set up
sight / site / cite
waiver / waver
Some entries include words we probably know, such as the difference between lose and loose, yet they often are mistyped and not corrected. The book lists words in alphabetical order, and each entry includes a short explanation on the proper usage. Sometimes, the word is antiquated and shouldn’t be used anymore. Other times, it’s a difference in American versus British English. It also explains the best word choice, so you don’t rub an editor (or other gatekeeper) the wrong way.
In addition to the word combination, the book includes singular words that are often misused. Have you used “enable” or “mischievious” in your writing? Find out why you shouldn’t use either one.
It’s hard to get our words into the hands of readers. At the very least, your work shouldn’t get tossed at the starting gate. Your copy needs to be error free, which shows professionalism and experience.
This booklet isn’t the final word on editing, and it’s not meant to be. Howard-Johnson shares these common word trippers from her experience as an editor and author. The booklet is a valuable resource, and one you should have in your purse, briefcase or book shelf.
You can flip through the book to look for a word you’re struggling with, or you can do what I did: read the entire book in one sitting. I found some gems I wouldn’t have otherwise seen if I skipped through entries. It’s short, easy-to-use and peppered with Howard-Johnson’s vast knowledge in publishing. This booklet is now sitting on my desk and always within arm’s reach. I highly recommend Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy for your library.