Quick & Dirty Writing Tips

Here are some quick & dirty writing tips that showcase some common writing issues.


A hotel, a historian. But: an honor, an heir


She was a blonde. But, she had blond hair.


Farther for physical distance, Further for metaphorical or figurative distance.


  • That is a defining pronoun.

  • Which is non-defining.

  • Who when referencing a person.

  • That when referencing an object


It’s not towards, backwards, afterwards, or upwards. It’s toward, backward, afterward, and upward.


  • Double adjectives preceding nouns are generally hyphenated: peach-colored dress, low-calorie diet, high-rolling gambler.

  • Double adjectives after nouns are not hyphenated: The dress was peach colored.

  • Do not hyphenate adverbs that modify adjectives beforenouns: a finely preserved stone, a highly deserved honor.

  • Colors: Do not hyphenate words like light or dark when they modify a color before a noun: light blue eyes, light brown hair, dark blue eyes, blue-green eyes but: bluish green eyes.

Close up compounds, even if they are temporary as per Chicago and Webster’s coworker, coordinate, coauthor, cofounder, catlike, childlike, midmorning, midsentence.

There should be no spaces before or after hyphens.


Use only one apostrophe for common nouns that end with an s or with a sibilant: appearance’ (conscience’, righteousness’) sake. Closely linked nouns are often considered a single unit in forming the possessive, when the entity is the same for both:

my aunt and uncle’s house.

  • Kansas’s, Texas’s, Jones’s, the Joneses’, the Rosses’.

  • Exceptions: Moses’, Jesus’.


Use a semicolon when then, however, thus, or other conjunctive adverbs join two complete sentences:

  • He ate a big lunch; then he went back to work.

  • But: He ate a big lunch, then went back to work.


Abbreviate and capitalize the following titles: Mr. Mrs. Ms. Dr.

Spell out and capitalize most titles when used in direct address without a name: “How are you feeling, Captain?” but “How are you feeling, sir?”

Honorific titles in address should always be capitalized: Your Majesty, Her Highness but: my lord, my lady.

Spell out and lower case titles when used as third-person references: The captain, the king, the detective.

Spell out and capitalize most titles with a name in dialogue: “Captain Smith will see you now.”

Renee RoccoComment