11 Tips from Editors to Consider in 2011

by Matilda Butler on January 8, 2011

Editors on Editing LogoPost #2 – Women’s Memoirs, Editors on Editing – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

11 Tips from Editors about Common Problems They Encounter

As you begin your 2011 writing, we wanted to share with you this handy list of 11 tips for memoir writers from editors. These are common problems that you can take care of before you send your manuscript to be edited or to an agent or publisher.

Have your own favorite common mistake that might help other memoir writers? Leave us a comment and we’ll add it to our list.


memoir-writing, memoir editing, writing, list for writersMemoir Editing Tip #1: Effect and affect are clearly different words. Yet editors tell us that writers often confuse the two. Do a Find in your document file and then make sure you’ve used the right one.

Memoir Editing Tip #2: Write, rite, and right have different meanings but sound the same. When you are concentrating on your story, your fingers may type the wrong spelling. Double check before sending your manuscript to an editor or a publisher.

Memoir Editing Tip #3: Do you misspell a lot? Be sure to allot ample time to the task of correcting…but never alot. Editors frequently find confusion in the use of these words.

memoir-writing, memoir, editing, lists for writersMemoir Editing Tip #4: Do you write that she showed up at 12 A.M for lunch? Hope not as that is midnight. The Search and Replace command lets you make sure you have used A.M. and P.M. correctly. While you’re checking, look for consistency in A.M. (not am or a.m.) and P.M.

[UPDATE: Look at the comments below for an update on this item.]

Memoir Editing Tip #5: Be sharp. Be precise. Editors often find an overuse of “and also.” Is the second part really needed? Remember, you don’t need suspenders and also a belt.

memoir-writing, editing memoirs, writersMemoir Editing Tip #6: An editor and I will remind you to join me (not I) on Twitter. Television programs and even publications have muddied the waters about the use of me and I. There are clear rules. Look them up and use these words correctly.

Memoir Editing Tip #7: Regardless of what you hear, never use irregardless. Irregardless is like a double negative and although it can be found in some dictionaries, it is not considered a proper word.

Memoir Editing Tip #8: Here’s one you may not have considered. Don’t say in the $9 range. It takes two numbers to make a range ($5 to $10 range).

memoir-writing, editing memoirs, memoirsMemoir Editing Tip #9: Editors remind us that “greater then” makes them shudder. When fixed, your memoir is greater than before.

Memoir Editing Tip #10: What is you’re problem? A editor can fix your problem. Or, you can. Try to avoid that typical mistake.

Memoir Editing Tip #11: And a final tip from editors: Try TO remember instead of try AND remember.

memoir-writing, memoir editingWould you like an editor to help you in the final stages of writing your memoir? Remember that Story Circle Network’s Editorial Service (SCN/ES) has 14 editors who offer three different levels of professional editing, depending on your need. (http://storycircleeditorialservice.org) You can choose your editor as well as the level of help you feel you need. The per page fee structure makes it easy for you to know your cost in advance. If you need assistance, please let us know as Kendra and I are the co-coordinators for SCN/ES.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brooke January 9, 2011 at

Are you sure about A.M. being the preferred style in CMS?

Matilda Butler January 9, 2011 at


Thanks for raising the question. My copy of Chicago Manual of Style is buried in some box with all the rest of my books. Knowing that I was taught to use capitals, I thought I’d better dig into this matter.

In the days of typesetting, AM and PM were set as small caps without periods. Earlier versions of The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) showed this usage and there are some who argue you should still use the small caps in formal writing. However, beginning with the updated publication in 2003, CMS switched and states that a.m. and p.m. are now the correct style. However, just to confuse the matter a little more, other abbreviations that were previously set in small caps were promoted to full caps.

Here’s even more fun, taken from The Chicago Manual of Style: Abbreviations that are set in either full or small caps do not need to use the period, except the abbreviation for United States (U.S.) and periods should be kept in that instance.

And when is CMS the official guide? Some publications develop their own abbreviated (no funny stuff here) style guides and requires those rules to be followed. They might still use AM and PM. Other organizations or publishers use CMS.

Two rules:

1. Inquire about the style guide used by the publishers or organization where you work.

2. Consistency is extremely important.

Brooke January 9, 2011 at

Thanks for the clearing that up ;-) I thought that a.m. was correct, so I just wanted to double check.

Joan Cannon February 4, 2011 at

I have to add to the A.M. discussion that I used (under instructions) The Chicago Manual of Style when I was editing a scholarly newsletter. They support the small letters with periods: a.m. and p.m. There is at least one journalism stylebook that does the same. That’s one arguable standard, though I agree on all your others.

Brenda Nelson September 7, 2011 at

Good tip — about enquiring of your publisher as to which grammatical guide they use. I have been using Strunk and White mostly. I also use The Gregg Reference Manual. Are these outdated? PS Thanks for creating a great website!

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