At my recent writer's group meeting we began tittering about editorial tricks. One of the women sighed that between all of the style books (AP Style, Chicago, Strunk and White) it's hard to get it right or know what is right. I agree. As I imparted some of my tricks, the group got excited. So I thought I would share some of those tricks on the blog.
Define X. Use Google and plug-in "define ___" and the proper usage and spelling comes up. This technique is especially useful for hyphenated words and idioms.
Idioms. Do we all know the proper usage of certain idioms? Expressions like first come, first served is the perfect example. Is it first to come first to serve? No, it's what I wrote, but an idiom wouldn't necessarily be a common word in a dictionary, right? I always use the "define [idiom]" approach and Google. The search provides the proper expression of the idiom and the proper grammar for the idiom, too.
Comma usage. Every style book has a "difference of opinion" on comma use. My edict is to simply pick a style and keep it consistent throughout the book. Wrong isn't wrong if that's a conscious choice to do it that way. No one out there agrees on comma usage, so make an agreement with yourself.