Tag Archives: writing

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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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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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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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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Setting up a WordPress blog 4 – Adding slideshows and galleries to blog posts and pages

In this series, we’ve already learned how to set up a WordPress blog, and how to add pages to make it into a WordPress website.  Last time, we talked about adding images to your blog posts and pages. This time we’re learning how to create galleries and slideshows and add your image to your user profile in WordPress.

Why would I want to add a gallery or slideshow to my blog post or page?

If you have a lot of images to accompany a blog post or web page, perhaps of artworks or craft items that you have created, and especially if you don’t have much text to accompany those images, so it’s going to be hard to format them on the page, consider adding a gallery (a grid of images) or a slideshow (one image shown at a time, with navigation buttons for the user).

Adding images to a WordPress blog post

When you’re in the blog editor, you can use the Add Media button, with your cursor is in the position where you want your image to appear, to select and add the images of your choice.

1 add media

You can download multiple images at a time, and they will then appear on your Insert Media page. Viewing your Insert Media page, if you’ve already downloaded images and want to use or re-use them, these will appear in your Media Library tab.

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How do I insert multiple images into a blog post or web page?

If you want to insert multiple images, the most simple way would be to tick all of the images that you want to use (see screenshot above) and press Insert into post. However, this will typically give you a jumble of images that looks really messy:

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Here’s how to do it properly and neatly.

How do I add a gallery of thumbnail images to a blog post or web page?

In the Insert Media page, click on Create Gallery in the left-hand menu bar:

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Select the images that you want to add to your gallery by clicking in the box at the top right of each image until it shows a tick, and click on Create New Gallery at the bottom of the screen:

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This will take you to the Edit Gallery screen. Here you can select how many columns your pictures display in and what format – here “Thumbnail Grid”, and then click to Insert Gallery:

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This will bring you back to your Edit post (or page) screen. The gallery doesn’t display in the edit screen, as it will pull the pictures from your gallery when the post is live. Click on View Post (or Page) to check how it’s looking …

20 gallery

When you View post, you can see the grid of images. In this case, because I’ve used screen shots as the images and they’re not all the same size and shape, the grid is a bit odd, but you can see the idea. It’s all much neater, which is the main thing:

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How do I add a slideshow to a WordPress blog post or page?

if you want a slideshow rather than a gallery, back in the Edit Gallery screen, click on the dropdown arrow by Type to view the different options. Choose the bottom one, Slideshow:

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When you’ve inserted your gallery and chosen View Post, you can see a single image at a time, with navigation buttons for forward, back and pause visible when the mouse hovers over the screen: a slideshow:

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Today we have found out how to add multiple pictures to your blog post or web page using a gallery or slideshow.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article and have found it useful. If so, please take a moment to share and comment – it helps to make other people aware of the help that they can find here. For more posts on blogging, social media, WordPress, Word, business and more, please have a look at the Resource Guide, or explore the categories to your right.

Related posts on this blog

How to set up a WordPress blog

How to add pages to make your WordPress blog into a website

How to add images to your WordPress blog posts and pages

Linking your blog to your social media

WordPress 6 – sharing buttons


Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Blogging, Business, WordPress, Writing


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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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Bimonthly or semimonthly / semi-monthly? Biweekly or semiweekly / semi-weekly?

I covered biennial or biannually quite a while ago now, but Guy K Haas commented on my index to all of these Troublesome Pairs that I should cover bimonthly or semimonthly, and biweekly or semiweekly. And so I shall.

However, one caveat before we begin: Try not to use these. There is so much confusion about words like these, that it is almost always so much better to write “Every two weeks” or “Twice a week” rather than using the more complex term. After all, these terms are usually used when one is scheduling something, and you don’t want your scheduling to go awry, do you!

Bimonthly actually means, in the dictionary (all of them), taking place or appearing twice a month … or every two months. So that’s no use, is it!

We find the same issue with biweekly – it can mean either (both) taking place or appearing twice a week … or every two weeks. Useless, again!

Moving on, semi-monthly and semi-weekly do mean occurring or appearing twice a month / twice a week (and notice that hyphen: that’s a bit annoying in itself, isn’t it!).

So, my recommendation: leave these well alone. State the exact times the whatever it is will be doing whatever it does. “My magazine is going to come out every two months” – “Oh, mine’s coming out twice a month, or every two weeks”. Job done.

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


Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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Setting up a WordPress blog 3 – Adding images to blog posts and pages

In this series, we’ve already learned how to set up a WordPress blog, and how to add pages to make it into a WordPress website. Today, we’re going to learn how to add pictures to blog posts and pages and how to edit images in WordPress. And here’s how to create galleries and slideshows and add your image to your user profile in WordPress.

Note: March 2014 – I have updated this post to take into account the new way to edit images that has just been implemented in WordPress.

How do I add an image to a WordPress blog post?

When you’re in the blog editor, you will find a button marked Add Media to the left. Making sure that your cursor is in the position where you want your image to appear, click on Add Media:

1 add media

This will take you to an Insert Media page, and if you’ve already downloaded any images and want to re-use them, they will appear in your Media Library tab. But for now, we want the Upload Files tab. Hit the Select Files button:

2 add media

Select Files takes you into the File Explorer section of your computer. Here you can navigate around your folders and pick the photo that you want to insert into your post.

NOTE: You might think that you can just right-click and copy an image from the internet or your Facebook timeline, etc., then paste it into your blog. This might work temporarily, but, from experience, these images tend to be unstable and disappear. If you want to use an image from the Internet or elsewhere, save it into your own folders first and then insert it using this method.

Navigate to your chosen picture and double-click on it or single click and press the Open button at the bottom of the screen:

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Your picture will be pulled across into your Media Library tab in WordPress.

Note: if you select more than one picture, they will all move into the Media Library, which makes them easy to select. In the next step, only keep the picture you want right then ticked, and untick the others, otherwise they’ll all merrily pile in to your blog in one place.

Making sure that the photo you want to use is ticked, choose the Attachment Details on the right-hand side. This specifies the caption, size and positioning of the image …

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Let’s look at that in more detail. You can place a caption on the picture if you want one to appear in your blog post – I don’t often bother, but it can be useful. It’s important to include Alt text, as this is what anyone using an audio describer will hear if they’re unable to see the image. It’s basically good accessibility practice. Link to allows you to link just to a larger version of the image, or you can choose URL to link to an external web page.  Alignment can be Left or Right (text flows around these to the other side of the image, if there’s room) or Center (like this blog post). Size is up to you: note, you can make an image smaller but not bigger once you’ve inserted it.

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Once you’ve chosen your picture and your settings and alignment, etc., hit the Insert into post button to place the image in your blog post.

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And here it is, in my blog post, medium-sized and left-aligned (so you can see that the text I’ve typed appears to the right of the picture and will flow around it. The top of the picture starts where my cursor was, at the beginning of that first line of type. If I chose Right alignment, it would be the other way around; if Center, the text would be underneath.

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How do I edit an image in my blog post? (including WordPress’s new image editing process)

Note: this section has been changed to reflect the changes implemented by WordPress in March 2014.

Once you’ve placed your image and written your post, you might want to edit the image. Left-click on your image using your mouse, and two icons will appear – edit and delete. Click on the right-hand, red, delete icon and your picture will disappear (no warning). Click on the left-hand icon that looks like a pen, and you will be able to edit your image.

01 new editing

On clicking the edit icon, you will be taken to an editing screen. This looks a bit different to the old editing screen, and it appears that you can’t do everything that you used to be able to do. But you can! With the help of my old friend Clare Lauwerys at The IT Fairy, I’ve been able to work out what to do and share it with you.

The basic editing screen now allows you to change the Caption text, Alt text, alignment, link and basic size. What about scaling it up and down and adding or changing description text? Don’t fear: it’s all still there.

To add or edit the description text, you need to click on Replace image. Yes, I know that doesn’t exactly make sense, but it’s what you have to do …

02 new editing

Once you’ve hit Replace image you’ll be back in the screen you use to add an image and give it its attributes in the first place:

03 new editing

You can see that the image you’re currently working on has remained ticked in the Add image screen, and you are able to add or amend your description text here (that’s important for your SEO, and I’m going to have Clare guesting on here soon to tell you all about that). When you’ve done that, hit the Replace button and your new image information and old image will be safely in your blog post.

To change the size of the image, stay within the blog post edit screen, click on the image once and then use the standard image changing frame to pull your image out or in with the mouse and cursor to make it larger or smaller:

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If you want to edit the picture to flip, rotate or crop it, click on the edit button and once you reach the Image Edit screen, click on Edit Image:

05 new editing

Once you’ve clicked on Edit Image, you can access the ability to flip, rotate and crop your image:

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… remembering to press Save when you’ve finished.

Note: you can no longer choose the size of the border around your images. The standard border that you get is an aspect of the theme you choose for your blog. You do get a border of sorts if you add a caption to the image.

How do I preview what my images look like in my blog post?

Click the View Post button to view your post as if it was live on your blog. This can save you from a nasty surprise, as the Edit Post screen does not display exactly as your blog post will in real life (of course, this will display differently on different screens, especially on mobiles and tablets, but this gives you a better idea than just looking at the Edit Post screen).

I’ve added another picture, with Right-alignment, and I want to see how the text flows around them.

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And there we go. It looks different from the editor, but I’m happy with the result.

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How do I add images to a web page on WordPress?

Fortunately, adding images to web pages works in exactly the same way as it does for adding images to blog posts. So just look for the same buttons and icons, but note that you start off from New Page or Edit Page, not New Post or Edit Post.

You’ve learned how to add pictures to WordPress blog posts and pages, and how to edit those images once you’ve got them into your post/page.

If you’ve found this useful, please add a comment below, and please share this post using the sharing buttons below. Thank you!

Related posts on this blog

WordPress 1 – the basics – joining and setting up a blog

WordPress 2 – adding pages to create a website

WordPress 4 – adding slideshows and galleries of images

WordPress 5 – linking your blog to your social media

WordPress 6 – sharing buttons


Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Blogging, Business, WordPress, Writing


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