Friday, December 13, 2013

Editing Tips from professional Editor Judy Serrano

Easy Editing Tips by Judy Serrano

I teach developmental writing in a local college, and I do editing for indie authors in my spare time. There are some common errors that many people make, so I thought I might go over a few editing tips to help make editing easier.

1) Quotation marks and dialogue- When using dialogue, the punctuation almost always goes inside. There are a few exceptions but they are rare, so just assume they go inside.  I have covered the exceptions further down.


“Lilly, you always go back to Max.”

“Hector, how could you do that to me?” he asked.

2) When not using dialogue, there are a few reasons why the punctuation should be outside the quotation marks.


Is there any truth in the saying, “Blood is thicker than water”?

3) Also, always put the colon or the semi-colon outside the quotation marks.

My book club read “Easter’s Lilly”; now we are reading book two of the series.

3) Capitalization in dialogue- Another common mistake is forgetting what to capitalize in dialogue. You always capitalize the first letter in the beginning of the quotation marks.


She said, “She will always love you, Max.”

The –S in she needs to be capitalized.

“Hector, how could you do that to me?” he asked.

The –h in he should not be capitalized.

4) Commas- Commas are probably the biggest editing challenge. If you have a dependent clause before an independent clause, you must put a comma between them. But when you have the independent clause first, there is no comma.


Because he was involved with organized crime, his life was very dangerous.

His life was very dangerous because he was involved with organized crime.

5) Another editing trick is to always use commas when forming a list. When a comma is used in a list of 3 or more things, and is used before the conjunction, it is called an Oxford Comma. While not used as much in the UK, it is almost always used by Americans to avoid confusion. Although it is not considered "a rule," it is taught in American schools as the correct way to punctuate a sentence. So, to play it safe, add the Oxford.


I need, eggs, milk, and cheese from the store.

Ellen is organizing the party, calling all the guests, and arranging for the clean up.

I hope these tips will help you with some of your day-to-day editing issues. If you need any further help, please contact me at  I am running a holiday special for my editing services. Also go to if you’d like to check out some of my books.

Thank you so much Candace for having me on your blog today.

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