Need an Editor? Try This Short Quiz

What’s wrong in the following paragraph?

The hotel manager ordered the house-keeping staff to dust the mantle above the fireplace in the lobby, but that does not infer the staff was doing a poor job. He also complemented their overall effort and it’s positive affect on the hotels business.

If you thought that paragraph looked fine…well, you might need an editor.

The meaning of those two sentences comes across, more or less. But the paragraph actually includes seven common errors in grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling (look below to see what they are). Many people won’t even notice them. But if these were your words, these little mistakes could add up and make a reader think that you don’t pay enough attention to detail–or worse. That’s not the high degree of professionalism you want to project.

Good writing makes the best and longest-lasting impression, because printed words tend to stick around. Your customers and staff will look at the communications that you put in front of them again and again. Therefore, always make sure that you are communicating professionally and effectively. Your writing should read smart, look sharp, and put your best words forward.

An editor can help with that. Another set of eyes can sharpen and direct your language, improve its flow, increase its focus, and make it consistent from page to page in multiple presentations and platforms. An editor spots the holes in your writing, anticipates the questions it will generate, and makes your message more effective. As Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis said, “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.”

It's tough work, but somebody's gotta do it.

But do you, personally, need an editor for your writing? How many mistakes did you find in the paragraph above? “I cannot think of anybody who doesn’t need an editor,” Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison said, “even though some people claim they don’t.”

The mistakes in that italicized paragraph are listed below. If you missed some of them, contact a professional editor .

  1. “housekeeping” should not be hyphenated; it is one word
  2. A “mantel” is a shelf over the fireplace; a “mantle” is a shroud or cloak, or something that covers
  3. “infer” is incorrect in this usage; the correct word in this case is “imply”
  4. “complemented” means “completed; “complimented” means praised
  5. “it’s” is a contraction for it is; this should be “its” (with no apostrophe), a possessive pronoun replacing “effort”
  6. “affect” is a verb; the correct word is “effect,” which is a noun
  7. “hotels” is a plural; in this case, its use is possessive, so there should be an apostrophe (“hotel’s”)
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