Saturday, February 22, 2014

Today's Writing Tip Is on Poring or Pouring over Your Books

This is a phrase that has always confused me because both spellings look wrong, and neither verb seems at first glance to mean what we want it to mean. But the correct answer is pore: Stephen was poring over his laptop notes. If he poured over them, we only have to hope that it wasn't coffee!

Pour means to fill a glass or drink with something, or to flow in a steady direction whereas to pore means to reflect or meditate, stare at something intensely, or – the meaning we want – to read or study with great attention. Pore can also be used as a noun to refer to the pores on our face.

Just remember that there is no “u” in poring over your books (or that  "u" may not find it to be all that much fun).

Sigrid Macdonald is an editor and the author of three books. Find her at  


Friday, February 7, 2014

Today's Writing Tip Is on Clarity

Sometimes when we write quickly, we don't think about the way a reader may interpret our sentences. We know what we want to say, but readers don't necessarily. That can lead to confusion or inaccuracies. Take the following sentence:

"In the winter, my aunt has osteoporosis and is afraid of falling." Really? Your aunt only has osteoporosis in the winter? I'd love to know how she makes it disappear in the summer. Or is she just afraid of falling in the winter? Or she is more afraid of falling in the winter than at any other time of year? A better way to phrase that sentence would be like this: "My aunt has osteoporosis. She is afraid of falling, especially in the winter."

It's easy to catch these sentences if you reread your material and make clarity a top priority in your writing.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three full-length books and two short stories. She provides copyediting services along with manuscript evaluations and can be found at  



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