Great Little Last-Minute
Editing Tips for Writers

The Ultimate Frugal Booklet
Avoiding Word Trippers
And Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy

Whether you've just started blogging or have begun writing a full book, you know you've forgotten some of the homonyms you learned in fourth grade! And how long has it been since you addressed wordy constructions? How about the difference between unbreakable grammar rules and style choices? The Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips booklet to the rescue! This little booklet is not designed to tell you everything! I mean, who wants to read a dictionary, page by page! But the Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers is a fun start, written with some humor, to get you started thinking about (and remembering!) the most important things that will keep you from making embarrassing errors in your writing. 



"A useful, ready reference for those odd blank moments when the 'right' spelling for one of the English Language's many 'tease' words just won't come!"
~ J. R. Poulter, award-winning author


For More on Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips on this page:
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This book available in paperback and as an e-book.

Please consider the Great First Impression Book Proposal for your career-building library. Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers' companion booklet, also only $6.95


Great little companion booklet to the wordtrippers booklet.

Great Little Last-Minute
Editing Tips for Writers

Title: Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers
Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Publisher: HowToDoItFrugally Publishing
ISBN: 1450507654

Reviewed by Karen Cioffi

     What’s more important to a writer than words? Not much . . .  maybe how to put words together properly, using correct grammar, weaving them together to create descriptive or informative content . . . but, we still go back to the foundation of every writer’s manuscript or article . . . words.
     Carolyn Howard Johnson’s latest book,
Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers, is a  little 55 page book (or e-book) that a writer can refer back to over and over and over to find help with some of the most common word trippers.
     In the Before You Get Started section of this book, Howard-Johnson explains, “Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers is full of words that are trouble causers. They either sound alike or are spelled similarly. They are not arcane words that you will seldom have an occasion to use. They are not words the writer knows but still mistypes.”
     Words such as climactic and climatic used improperly or misspelled can mean a rejection when submitting to the “gatekeepers.” The addition or deletion of that little second “c” makes a huge difference in the meaning of the word.
     Or, how about the words: all together / altogether; demur / demure; one in the same / one and the same; and peeked / peaked / piqued. These are just a few of the word trippers added in the Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers.
Listed in an A – Z format, the words chosen for this book are thoroughly explained with the aid of examples. This all makes for an easy to understand and easy to read guide. The author also provides two resource sections at the end of the book: Reading: One Editing Book at a Time, and Other Writers’ Aids.
     I happen to be a fan of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Frugal series and have the Frugal Editor as well as the Frugal Book Promoter. They are a part of my writing and marketing toolkit. The author has done it again with the Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers. She has compiled this much needed booklet as an addendum to a list in the appendix of her book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success.
     I learned a great deal from Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers and will be referring to it often; I highly recommend it.
~ Reviewed by Karen Cioffi, author, writer-for-hire, freelance write 

Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers:
Subtitle: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
HowToDoItFrugally Publishing, 2010
55 pages, e-book and paperback
Also available for Kindle
ISBN: 1450507654

Reviewed by Dawn Colclasure

Is there a difference between “childlike” and “childish”? Actually, there is. That's just one of the things I learned when reading Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, which is a companion volume to her other book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success.

Reading this book reminded me of the first book in my Revisions series, which is scheduled for publication this spring (and notice that it is “spring” and not “Spring”). In the editing section of that book, I show the difference between popularly confusing words, such as lay/lie, this/that, who/whom and farther/further. In the first part of this book, “Trip-You-Up Words,” Carolyn explores word pairings (or even triplings) of words commonly confused with each other.

I'm glad she included information on the difference between "anxious" and "eager.” I trained myself to stop using "anxious" in a positive way (such as, "I am anxious to see you again") by remembering that the "anx-" prefix is similar to "anxiety." Thus, "anxious" is similar to being filled with anxiety. So would I be feeling anxiety at the prospect of seeing a friend again? Not if it's a good friend! So the correct word is "eager."

This made me laugh: "The sidekick baseball announcers are big on commentary. My gawd! Those statistics and opinions! They go on ad infinitum." (Page 20) One thing Carolyn is known for is her wit and sense of humor. It was pleasant to see this side of her shown in her book.

I wish she had included the difference between compliment/complement. On the other hand, readers must remember that this itty bitty book is only a “companion” volume to her larger, in-depth book on editing. You’ll also find more editing tips on her blog, “The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor." If a word pairing is not covered here or in her book, chances are good she has taken it on in her blog.

She doesn't exactly explain why there is a difference between "hope" and "hopefully," and why using "hopefully" in the common way it is misused is incorrect. (I was surprised to learn this, myself.) Again, however, check with her book, or her blog.

I really appreciated reading this: "In English, we get to make up a word now and then as long as we don't do it at the threshold of a gatekeeper." (Page 28) So true! And very good advice. One thing about being a logophile (lover of words) is that we like to “take breaks” from our quest for proper grammar and have fun with the object of our addic—er, I mean, “affection.” One way we do this is to make up words, and it’s such fun to make up words. Sometimes, I’ll write out silly words just to pass the time, and the results can sometimes pique my interest or cause me to chuckle. (And Carolyn will be pleased to know that I have use “pique” as her booklet instructs.)

I'm glad she pointed out the difference between “i.e.” and “e.g.” as well as the importance of inserting commas on either side of "i.e." and "e.g." She didn't, however, note that the periods are likewise essential. I’ve seen many people use them as “ie” and “eg.”

Some readers of this book, and many others like it, may reach the conclusion that Carolyn must always have perfect grammar and never make a mistake. Unfortunately, this is a widespread opinion of such authors and writers. Even some may believe such a thing of Mignon Fogarty ("Grammar Girl"). However, these writers are only human, and humans are prone to make mistakes. Even grammarians make mistakes. Editors make mistakes all the time. Carolyn reminds her readers of this by sharing an embarrassing goof in using the wrong word in the title of a poem she shared with her class, concluding with: "This experience gives me a chance to remind you to be forgiving of others when they error; your turn is sure to come."

I was grateful to learn the difference between "podium" and "lectern." I know I have misused "podium" a time or two. Now, thanks to this "great little" book, I'll be sure to remember which word is the correct one to use!

And now for the "curious word of the day." Cue the fanfare! The curious word is: Swum. Yes, "swum" is indeed a word, Carolyn notes. To be honest, I've always, always seen either "swim," "swimmed" or "swam." But never "swum." It made me wonder if there is a difference between "swum" and "swam." ("Swam" is still a word, right?)

I love how she points out the popular mispronunciation of words, some of which even I am guilty of. It is not "mischievious," but "mischievous." It is not "verbage" but "verbiage." Likewise, she points out the popular way sayings are repeated incorrectly. It is not "could care less" but "couldn't care less." It is not "tie you over" but "tide you over." In one of my manuscripts, a character is guilty of often quoting popular phrases incorrectly, and we’ve all gotten a chuckle or two when someone does this in a TV show or movie. Still, it's nice to know the correct way to say such a thing for what you really mean.

This “great little book” of editing tips gives readers a down-to-earth and refreshing approach to better grammar and usage. Grammarians bemoan the incorrect wording of the sign “ten items or less” and chuckle over a sign advertising “tattoo’s.” (Whose tattoo, exactly?) While we are imperfect writers living in an imperfect world filled with grammar mistakes and mispronunciations, it’s editing books like this that helps us get one step closer to writing, and speaking, clearly and succinctly.
~Reviewer Dawn Colclasure is an author of Totally Scared: The Complete Book On Haunted Houses where she shares everything you ever wanted to know about haunted houses, and the ghosts who haunt them! She is a contributing writer for SIGNews.  Tweet with her at

Great Little Last-Minute Editing
Tips for Writers

Before You Get Started

This booklet is an addendum to a list in the appendix of my book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Even a booklet like this will not complete the list of word trippers, for the English language is so complex we could fill volumes with similar nemeses to writers and editors alike. I hope to have many more quick studies for you. This is addendum number one, as it were.

I chose entries in the list in The Frugal Editor from the most frequent mistakes I saw as I edited manuscripts for others. This list fills in where that list left off, but I stick to my original intent of giving writers as many tips as I can in easily absorbed increments, tips that will advance their editing craft. And that craft is as essential to writers as their writing skills—even when they are fortunate enough to be assigned a talented editor or flush enough to hire the best for themselves.

Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers is full of words that are trouble causers. They either sound alike or are spelled similarly. They are not arcane words that you will seldom have an occasion to use. They are not words the writer knows but still mistypes. Words like to/too/two and their/there/they’re. We've known about those guys and their kin since third grade. Misusing them is a case of your brain and fingers going a bit haywire as you write. Certainly their misuse has nothing to do with your knowing their sneaky ways, and there's no help for their confusion other than, as The Frugal Editor suggests, hiring a second pair of eyes or reading copy backwards. Even effective computer tools like Microsoft Word's Spell Checker won't help. These are little things you just gotta know.

It is my hope that—because the paper version of this booklet is slim—writers might take it with them to read and refresh when they are on the go. Or that they will print it out from the e-version and do the same. (Kindle users don't need this advice—they've got this portability thing wired!) I also wanted to keep it short so they won't be daunted by too much to learn. I mean, who wants to tackle the AP stylebook in one sitting!

The English language is groping toward a million words. Compared to many other languages, that is a huge number. I won't tell you how many French has, as an example, because it's a touchy subject and experts disagree anyway. French word watchers discourage diluting (polluting?) their language with foreign words so the heft of their dictionary is noticeably light.

In addition, language evolves. Those of us who went to school back in the dark ages must adapt. Younger readers may wonder what all the fuss is about, but even you young ones will have to adjust to future changes. The computerized world is moving along at a faster clip than ever before and contributing to changes at the same rate.

The point is that it is no wonder those who write in English—those who love words, have studied words, or have a natural facility for words—will always have more to learn. I hope we mere mortal writers will learn enough about editing that we'll pick up on errors our editors overlook. I've actually seen editors overlook the childlike/childish entry in this booklet.

Before I sign off, I want to make it clear that I believe one’s voice should come through in all kinds of writing, including texts. The reader should get a sense of who the author is, even in books on grammar. That means I get to talk to you as if we were chatting at Starbucks. And I’m cautioning you, you don’t want an editor to clean up language that makes the personal you come through. For a longer discussion on what to expect from an editor, please refer to The Frugal Editor.

After the word trippers I include a list of books for further study. I hope you'll read more than one.

Mark Twain knew the importance of making the correct word choice. He said, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

Okay, let's get started on this list of trip-you-up words.

Great Little Last-Minute Editing
Tips for Writers



Before You Get Started
Trip-You-Up Words
Reading: One Editing Book at a Time
Other Writers' Aids

Yep, that's it. I know, you'll be sorry when you turn the last page!

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson

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