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Category Archives: Errors

Phase or faze?

DictionariesI find these two words being mixed up quite commonly, and it’s one of those ones that … I won’t say it annoys me, because I try to remain calm and focused on the sense of the writing in the face of errors, but it sometimes makes me a bit tense.

The incorrect usage is always in one direction of the confusion. I’ll show you what I mean …

A phase is a distinct period of time or stage (“we are doing the building work in three phases: foundations, walls and roof, with gaps to raise money in between”) and it has some complicated scientific meanings which are related to this idea of separateness and which we probably don’t need to go into here.* The verb to phase (in/out) means to carry out a process gradually (“We are phasing in the new hires so everybody doesn’t arrive at once”) and is used in those scientific contexts I talk about below.

What phased does not mean is confused or discombobulated.

To faze is to confuse, disturb or discombobulate – so the past tense is fazed. “I was fazed by the information he was bombarding me with and had to take a break”.

Faze – confuse. Phase – time period or other separate thing.

“I was not fazed when the phases of the traffic lights were altered, because I had read the notices and knew it was about to happen.”

*Oh, alright then, if you insist: in physics, it’s the relationship in time between the cycles of a system and a fixed point in time; in chemistry it’s a distinct form of matter that is separate from other forms in terms of its surface; and in zoology, it’s the variations in an animal’s colouring depending on the seasons or genetics.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 
 

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Appraised or apprised?

DictionariesThis one was suggested by my friend Lyndsey Michaels – thanks, Lyndsey! As she works with tender documents, and both of these are used in formal and business writing, I’m assuming that she’s found that they’ve been mixed up frequently in the raw materials that she’s sent to craft into official documentation.

So, to appraise means to assess the value of somebody or something. You often get a yearly appraisal at work these days, and an antiques expert might appraise a table, for example.

To apprise means to tell or to inform. It’s usually used in a phrase like “She apprised him of the state of the company’s finances”.

Interestingly, there is an archaic word, to apprize or apprise, which does mean specifically to put a price on something. I don’t know whether that meaning has continued in people’s minds, or whether the two would get mixed up anyway.

“He apprised his boss of the auctioneer’s appraisal of the table and suggested that they didn’t bother to sell it after all.”

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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How to change the language of your Word 2007, 2010 or 2013 document

This article tells you how to change the language of your document in Word 2007, 2010 or 2013.

Why would I want to change the language of my Word document?

The language that is set for your Word document sets the language in which the spelling and grammar checks work. If you are working, say, at a university that uses UK English, and you use a version of Word that’s set for US English, when you run a spell check (or if you ask Word to highlight errors as you go along), the spelling will default to American English. You will submit your document in the incorrect version of the language. This can really matter if you’re instructed to use one particular version, and will matter more as you move into submitting articles for journals (which may specify either version of English) or working for a company that uses British or American spelling as standard.

If you’re working in the field of localisation, or even just, as I used to, writing documents for the US and UK markets simultaneously, making sure that the language set for your document matches the language you’re working in means that you can run final checks and make sure that you’re using the appropriate spelling.

If your document has come from another country which uses a language other than English, for example if you’re working on a document prepared by a translator working out of their own language, you really need to change the language to English before you start editing it, or when you run a final spell check, every word will be highlighted and confusion will ensue.

So it’s important to make sure that the language of your document matches the language in which you wish to work. I receive many documents to proofread which are set for US English but are for a student at a UK university – a quick set of actions is all that it takes, but I fear that students will be penalised if they use the inappropriate spellings for the context.

How do I view and change the language in my document?

In Word, the language that is set for your document should appear in the lower status bar of your document:

1 language on status bar

From here, you can easily change the language of selected text or the whole document (see below). But first we’ll look at how to add this useful display if it’s not showing.

How do I make the language display on my status bar?

If the language isn’t showing on your status bar and you want to see it there, right-click anywhere on the lower status bar. A menu should appear with lots of options to tick. Any item that is ticked will appear on the status bar – this is also useful if you want to view your word count there.

2 add language on status bar

Click on Language or tick the tick-box next to it, and your language will appear for ever more in the bottom status bar.

This works exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013.

How do I change the language using the status bar display?

First you need to highlight the text whose language you want to change.

You might want to highlight parts of the document (for example if it’s a dual translation in two languages and you just want to set one to UK English, or it’s a localisation and you just want to change one column of a two-column original and target language table), keeping the control key pressed down if you want to select several individual blocks of text.

If you want to change the language of the whole document, go to the Home tab and choose Select to the very right of the tab, then Select All:

3 select text

(or you might press the Select All button on your Quick Access Toolbar if you’ve added it there (marked with an arrow on the screenshot above) – see my article on Adding Buttons to the QAT if you need to know how to do that).

Once you’ve highlighted the text for which you want to set the language, click on the language display in the bottom status bar and choose your language:

4 select language

Note: Do not check spelling or grammar has a blue square next to it. Click in this square twice so that first a tick, then nothing, appears in the square.

Now click on OK. Your language will have changed to the language you selected.

This works exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013.

How do I change the language using the menus in the ribbon?

If you don’t choose to display the language in the lower status bar, you can access it via the menus in the ribbon at the top of the screen instead. This works slightly differently in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, so I’ll show you screenshots of all three.

In Word 2007, choose the Review tab and then Set Language in the Proofing section:

5 menus 2007

In Word 2010, choose the Review tab, then the Language button in the Language section, and click Set Proofing Language:

5 menus 2010

In Word 2013, again, choose the Review tab, Language section, Language button and Set Proofing Language:

5 menus 2013

For Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, once you’ve clicked on the relevant button, you will see the dialogue box for changing the language: select your language, remembering to click the blue square next to Do not check spelling and grammar once, twice, so there’s a tick then nothing:

7 select language

How do I change the language in my comments balloons?

You may find that the language in your comments balloons remains the original language of the document. If you need to change the language in your comments, see this article.

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In this article, I’ve shown you how to change the language of your Word document. If you have found this useful, please leave a comment and click on the sharing buttons below. Thank you!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents.

Related posts on this blog:

How to change the language of comments

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here

 
 

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Draw or drawer?

DictionariesAnecdotally, I’ve noticed that this distinction is starting to get lost or muddled. I can’t give you specific examples, although there is a furniture shop close to where I live with the rather wonderful advert for “chester draws” (I do try not to mock odd use of English, but I rather like the inventiveness of this one, hence sharing it here).

To draw (a verb) is to make marks on paper with a pencil, or on another material with another medium, in order to produce a picture. It also means to drag something along or across (a horse draws a cart, we draw the curtains when we close (or open!) them); to reach a certain point (“we hope that the meeting will draw to an end by 7pm”); to work out (you draw conclusions); to attract attention (“his miming act drew a smaller crowd than he’d expected”) and various other technical things to do with pipes and sails and water.

There is a noun, draw, but this means to select a winner randomly (“We will have a draw of the raffle tickets at the end of the fete”), a game that ends in the same score for both sides or, in cricket, where the match has to be abandoned because it can’t be completed in the time allowed (“The match was a draw. Both teams got 1 goal”), or an attraction (“her burlesque act was a  big draw and the variety show made a huge profit”). What it isn’t is anything to do with furniture.

A drawer (a noun) is the slide-out compartment in a piece of furniture, kitchen unit, desk, etc. It’s also a rather old-fashioned word for underpants, a drawer is someone who draws something, and you can be the drawer of a cheque when you write one. But the main use is the one to do with furniture.

“The winner of the prize draw received a beautiful chest of drawers. I’m going to draw a picture of it for the person who donated it, so they can remember it.”

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 
 

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What to do when you encounter plagiarism: business content

PlagiarismThis post is for editors who suspect that they might have encountered some deliberate or accidental plagiarism when dealing with content for their business clients, particularly in regard to websites and blog content. By sharing my tips and practices, I hope that I can gather a resource of best practices for other editors / proofreaders.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of passing someone else’s work off as your own. In the business world, this usually involves copying someone else’s content, word for word, without linking back to the original work or acknowledging that it has come from elsewhere.

I’ve noticed that I and colleagues are fairly often confronted with content to edit that has  been pulled wholesale from another (often rival) website, used word for word without attribution. That would be stolen. It’s found most often, in my experience, in business marketing content such as websites and blogs. Note that I have written about plagiarism in student work in another article.

Plagiarism in the business world

Why is plagiarism bad? Two reasons:

  1. If you steal someone else’s content, you are liable to be found out, either by a prospective client who is looking at several different websites in one business area, or by the originator of the content, who may be alerted by a search service such as Google Alerts or plagiarism-detecting software such as Copyscape (thanks Arlene Prunkel for the heads-up; she has blogged about her own experiences using this software).
  2. Using the exact same wording in two places alerts the search engines that something is amiss. It’s never clear exactly how the algorithms work, but you run the risk of your content not being indexed and found anyway.

Why is not flagging plagiarism bad for the editor?

  1. OK, we haven’t signed a Hippocratic Oath of Editing or anything, but it’s the job of a principled and decent editor not to allow plagiarism to happen – surely?
  2. Someone finds out that a site you’ve edited has plagiarised their content. You let it pass unmentioned. The plagiariser says, “Oh, my editor didn’t flag it up”, and the finger starts to point at you.

What form does business web content plagiarism take?

As with student plagiarism, business plagiarism can be deliberate or accidental – or a mixture of the two.

Deliberate plagiarism

I’ve edited web text where the style and content varies so much that it’s clear that it’s come from different sources. Sometimes the client is clear about this, “Oh, I picked it up from various places, it doesn’t matter, does it?” Yes, it does.

On other occasions, I’ve been given a link to a single blog post or article, or perhaps a web page, usually by necessity published by the client’s rival, and been asked to “rewrite this so it doesn’t look like we’ve used their words”. Not ethical.

Deliberate or accidental plagiarism

Sometimes it’s not clear whether a client realises that you’re not supposed to lift text wholesale from another place. So it’s important not to pour scorn or invoke human rights and laws, but to quietly educate.

Accidental plagiarism

Very often, a client or indeed other blogger won’t realise that reposting the whole of an article or web page, with a reference or link at the bottom, will prejudice the search engines against them and lead to their content not being indexed. Here, it’s useful to drop them a line to suggest that they only post a few lines of the original with a link to where it can be found in full. Link-backs all round and happily shared content!

What to do when you encounter plagiarism in business texts

I have a sliding scale of activities depending on the level of plagiarism and overtness about the plagiarism:

Here’s what I do to avoid my clients plagiarising on their websites and blogs:

  • If I find lots of reposted blog content which is referenced, I will have a quiet word about posting teasers and links instead.
  • If I suspect content has been lifted from elsewhere, I’ll pop a few sentences into Google and see if I can find the source. Then I’ll raise the issue with the client by marking the sections or just emailing them to ask if they had permission to quote the source. I’ll then suggest that they rewrite it (or have it rewritten) using a variety of sources.
  • If a client has quoted an industry leader or other person but not referenced where they got those quotes, and it’s clearly not from a direct conversation, I will advise them that they should quote their sources in a source list or footnote or link.
  • If I am asked to rewrite one blog post or web page to make it suitable for the client, I will go back to them and either offer to research the topic myself or ask for a list of suitable resources from which to research it (which can then be referenced in the text)

I will always explain why plagiarising is a bad idea and the effects it can have on their business, reputation and search engine results. Most clients understand the issues once they’re explained: any that ask me to continue helping them to plagiarise whatever will become ex-clients. I can’t risk being associated with this kind of activity, and I don’t wish to be implicated in any scandals, plus it’s against my ethics to promote or encourage plagiarism.

I’ve talked here about strategies for dealing with plagiarism in business texts. If you have any other practices you’d like to share, please do submit a comment below!

Related posts on this blog:

What to do when you encounter plagiarism: student work

Top 10 blogging sins

My terms and conditions

 

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Forward or foreword?

DictionariesIn the past two days, both I and a colleague have come across clients sending us the “forwards” to their books, so it’s worth me underlining the correct use of forward and foreword here, I think!

Forward means in the direction that you are facing or in the direction that you are travelling. As an extension, it means travelling or moving onward/ahead (literally or metaphorically – “the convoy moved forward across the plain” / “forward-thinking has enabled us to plan the future”), in the standard order (“the purchasing process is going forward”), and then further advanced than would be expected (“she is forward in her reading”). It has additional meanings of the front of a ship; being a bit bold and over-familiar (“she was very forward and flirted with all of the sailors as she served their drinks”); and sending on a letter from one address to a final destination (“When he was at university, his parents thoughtfully forwarded all of his junk mail to him”).

A foreword, which is the word that our author clients were looking for, is a short introduction to a book, which is usually written by somebody other than the author of the book – a celebrity or someone more experienced in the field.

While the foreword might be considered to go at the forward end of a book, it’s a fore word, as in words that come before.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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What to do when you encounter plagiarism: student work

PlagiarismThis post is for editors who suspect that they might have come across deliberate or accidental plagiarism, or are concerned that they are doing “too much” and thus causing their client to unwittingly engage in plagiarism. By sharing how I approach this, and asking for comments, I hope I can gather together a resource of best practices for other editors / proofreaders.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is, at its most basic, the act of passing someone else’s work off as your own. It usually involves copying someone else’s work, text, content, however you want to describe it, without pointing out that  you’ve copied it or referencing it back to the original work.

In my work, plagiarism is found most often in student work and business marketing content such as websites and blogs. This post is about student work, and I discuss business content in another post.

Plagiarism in academic work

Plagiarism is, unfortunately, rife in academic work. You can kind of understand it: students are under a lot of pressure, and overseas students in particular can have a lot of financial pressure from their funders to return home with a good degree and pick up a high-level job. With courses over-subscribed and A-levels often not preparing students for the rigours of academic work, the student may not understand that they are not supposed to use other people’s work unattributed, although universities do provide them with reams of paper and things to sign which are intended to explain and prevent plagiarism.

I tend to find two kinds of plagiarism, deliberate and accidental:

Deliberate plagiarism

I’ve come across some pretty shocking examples of deliberate plagiarism in my work. This includes sections marked in a different colour, with a note in the covering email: “Can you please rewrite the sections I’ve highlighted”. More heartrending are the examples where the author says to me, “My English is not good enough to rewrite the parts from other authors, please help me to rewrite them”. But I can’t.

Deliberate or accidental plagiarism

I often come across direct quotations used as if they are the author’s own words. Unfortunately, to the experienced editor, it becomes all-too-clear when a direct quotation is being used without being referenced. Here are some markers of the unattributed block of text that I’ve found:

  • The language changes subtly: more multi-syllable words, different kinds of linking words used
  • The standard of the English becomes markedly higher, with no corrections needed to be made (even if you miss these as you go along, the island of white in a sea of coloured corrections and highlights stands out as you look at the page)
  • The language changes from American to British English or vice versa (many students are inconsistent in their spellings, but a block of the opposite type of English is a real giveaway)
  • The font, size or colour of the text, or the indentation, line spacing or justification changes – a classic case of copy and paste

Sometimes you can give the student the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe they meant to rewrite and reference and forgot. Maybe they didn’t realise that they couldn’t use blocks of text like this. But it doesn’t mean that it can go unmarked.

Accidental plagiarism

I would count accidental plagiarism as a case where a student who has clearly rewritten ideas taken from other texts and referenced direct quotations and such ideas misses off a reference after a piece of text that is clearly from someone else. Of course, the cases above may be accidental, too, but they do still need to be addresses, as does the odd missed reference.

Plagiarism by the editor

There’s another form of plagiarism which the editor must resist themselves: rewriting so much of the text that it’s the editor who has in effect written the text, and not the student. I talk about how I avoid that below.

What to do when you encounter plagiarism in student work

It’s our duty as decent and principled editors to flag up plagiarism when we find it and help our student customers to realise how they should be referencing and when they’ve made a mistake. It is not our job to rewrite text or make so many corrections and suggestions that we have in effect written the essay ourselves. There are plenty of dodgy proofreading companies out there that will do that (and essay writing companies that will sell students ready-written essays), but as a decent editor, you should not be involved in those sorts of practices.

If you don’t flag up these problems, it is likely that the essay will be run through the university’s plagiarism software and that will flag them up to serious effect (many students know this, and that’s why they might ask us to rewrite sections for them). If you’re concerned about returning work to a student with plagiarism noted and discussed, remember that you’re saving them from possible penalties or even expulsion from their course if they continue to plagiarise and attempt to pass others’ work off as their own, even if you’re not concerned about helping people to obtain qualifications fraudulently.

Here’s what I do to avoid helping the student to commit plagiarism by passing off my own words as their own:

  • I always work with Track Changes turned on and instruct the student to check each change and accept or reject it themselves. Yes, I know they can press “Accept all changes”, but I send them instructions on how to work with Track Changes that don’t include this option.
  • I will delete, add and rearrange only if either the words are all correct but the order is incorrect, or the order is correct but the tenses are incorrect. You soon get a feel for the light touch needed to bring writing up to a clear output without rewriting.
  • If a sentence is obviously wrong in terms of content, I will insert a comment and advise the student to check the correctness of the content.
  • If a sentence is so garbled as to not make sense, I will insert a comment and ask the student to rewrite it.
  • If a sentence could mean one of two things, I will insert a comment to suggest the two opposite meanings and ask which they mean.
  • I am clear in my terms and conditions on this website and in my initial text to the student that this is how I operate.
  • When dealing with a bibliography, I will make small amendments to isolated errors in punctuation or order, usually up to about 10% of entries. If more than 10% of entries are not formatted according to the rules the student has sent me, or are completely chaotic, I stop editing the bibliography and insert a comment to remind the student that the bibliography is supposed to demonstrate their skill and knowledge, so they must work on it themselves.

Here’s what I do to stop the student plagiarising:

  • If I find the odd missed reference for a direct quotation, I will highlight the offending quotation and insert a comment reading “Reference required”.
  • If I find the odd obvious copy and paste which has not been referenced, I will highlight the offending sentences and insert a comment reading “Reference required”.
  • If I find an isolated substantial section which has clearly or even possibly been lifted from another source, I usually copy a few sentences and pop it in a Google search to see whether I can find the original. Then I will highlight the section and insert a comment along the lines of “This appears to come from another source without being referenced. Mark as a direct quotation and reference, or rewrite in your own words and reference”.
  • If I find several substantial sections like the above, I will stop editing and write to the student advising that much of the text has been lifted from other sources without being referenced, this is plagiarism and they need to address the issues.
  • If I find anything more than the odd missed reference to a direct quotation, I will mention the referencing issue in my covering email when returning the work, to ensure that the student is reminded to reference all direct and indirect quotations (thanks to Liam for his comment below reminding me that I do this).

What if the student says it’s OK to rewrite their work?

Sometimes when I return work to a student advising that it’s risking plagiarism to have me continue working on their text (usually because of the level of changes I’m having to make to the text rather than lifting work from other writers), they will come back to me to say that their supervisor / tutor says that it’s OK to do this amount of rewriting.

If they do this, I request that their tutor writes to me telling me it is OK to engage in this level of correction. I require this letter to be on headed paper, signed by the supervisor and scanned in and emailed to me. This hasn’t happened very often; when it has, I have contacted the supervisor to check, and continued with the work. I have saved the scanned letter alongside my copy of the student’s work in case of any comeback.

This article has outlined what I do when I encounter plagiarism in student work. I have resources on this website about plagiarism (listed below) which I am happy for you to reference if you need to (but not copy!). If you have other ways of overcoming this issue, please do submit a comment!

Related posts on this blog:

Plagiarism in business texts

On plagiarism

How to quote sources without plagiarising

Referencing for academic writing

Choosing a proofreader – student edition

My terms and conditions

Why has my proofreader not edited my bibliography?

On (not) crossing the line

 

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Illusion or delusion?

DictionariesWhat’s the difference between an illusion and a delusion. In this post in my series of Troublesome Pairs, I’ll explain it to you …

An illusion is a false or deceptive appearance, impression or perception: “He gave the illusion of being able to touch-type: in fact, he stared at the keyboard and typed with two fingers”; “The illusion produced by the smoke and mirrors was very convincing and she thought that she could see the magician in two places at the same time.”

A delusion is an internally produced belief that is not in line with what is generally accepted to be the truth: “He fell prey to the delusion that he was a magnet for women, but put them off with his cheesy chat-up lines”.

You can think of it like this: an illusion is imposed from the outside, while a delusion arises from the inside. I hope that helps!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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Dryer or drier?

A commonly confused pair, this is in fact confusing when you start to look into it, too! Perhaps that’s why I’ve left it until now!

Drier is the comparative of the adjective dry. So, today it didn’t rain very much, so it was drier than yesterday, when it poured with rain all day. This white wine is drier than that white wine. Liz’s laundry has been on the washing line in her North-facing garden all day and is no drier than when she put it out. You get the idea.

A dryer is a device which dries things. So you have a tumble dryer or a hair dryer. Simple.

But: drier is also an alternative or variant spelling of dryer. How disappointing. But we don’t need to use it as such, do we? Let’s keep those two alternatives going strong, and get our laundry drier by using our tumble dryer!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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Faint or feint?

DictionariesHere we go with another Troublesome Pair. We have a slight spelling issue going on with the second of these two, as well, just to add extra value!

Faint as an adjective means barely perceptible, slight, and in medical terms, close to losing consciousness: “Even the faint whiff of eggs was enough to make me feel faint”. The verb to faint indicates a sudden loss of consciousness: “She saw the horrible sight and fainted, falling to the floor, out cold”. Faint hearted – means lacking conviction or courage – another of our extensions into metaphor.

A feint (not a fient) is a pretended or deceptive thrust or blow in the sports of boxing fencing (or in general fighting). “I feinted a punch to the left and ran around him as he ducked”. It is also, in my favoured usage, the term for paper which has been printed with faint lines to give a guide for handwriting – you will see “Narrow feint” or “Wide feint” printed on the front of notebooks or pads of paper.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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