Besides being an editor who is tempted to read for pleasure with a red pen, I am bothered by books that haven’t been as professionally edited as they could be—whether they are self-published or published by a traditional press.
One of my pet peeves is the backwards apostrophe. For example, using a contraction with the first syllable left off, like “lift ‘em high.” When you type this apostrophe, it faces the wrong way. (This is using the most common type font, like Arial or Times New Roman. Other fonts have straight up and down apostrophes, but these two are the ones most agents and publishers prefer.)
You could find one that is curled the correct way and copy and paste. Or here is a quick and fairly easy shortcut. Highlight the apostrophe, hold down your Control key, hit the apostrophe key once, the comma key twice, and the apostrophe key once more. OK, that sounds complicated, but it’s really not. Cntl ‘,,’ and presto, the fix is done!
Here’s another tip for making an em-dash at end of quote. For example, “I didn’t mean—”
An em-dash is created by typing two hyphens with no spaces between the word and the punctuation. However, in MS Word, to make the double-hyphen automatically turn into a long dash and the quote marks to face the right way, it must be followed by another letter and the space bar. Or it would look like this: "I didn't mean--“
So, after you type the two hyphens to make the dash, type in a letter, then the quote mark, then go back and remove the letter. For example, “I didn’t mean—s” (go back and delete the letter “s.”)
Another hint, to find the correct symbols, such as Trademark or umlauts for German letters, etc., (in Word) go to Symbols on your toolbar. Again, you can copy and paste or you can use the shortcut keystrokes they recommend.
Are you all confused now? Does anyone else have other little tricks like these to share?
A native Montanan, Heidi Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. She has had her first novel published, Cowgirl Dreams, based on her grandmother. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series. The sequel, Follow the Dream will be released this year.