PUGS Pointers #4

More “PUGS Pointers”–yet another reason to polish your “PUGS” (unprofessional appearance) plus additional tips on punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling.


PUGS errors give an unprofessional appearance to publishers.

You don’t want an acquisitions editor or someone on a publishing committee looking at your manuscript and thinking, “You know, this author has some good things to say, but she sure doesn’t know a comma from a semicolon.”



Do not use an apostrophe when pluralizing. Here are some words people tend to incorrectly insert apostrophes into:

          dos and don’ts
          no ifs, ands, or buts
          the 1980s
          the Joneses
          “I had to go to three DMVs to get my license renewed.”

Exception: To avoid confusion, pluralize lowercase letters and abbreviations with two or more periods (or that have both capital and lowercase letters) with an apostrophe-s.

          x’s and y’s                  
          a’s and b’s                   
          M.A.’s and Ph.D.’s



ensure (verb) means “to assure,” “to secure,” “to make something certain or sure.”
“Molly wanted to ensure that her manuscript was received by the publisher.”

insure (verb) means to guard, protect, safeguard, or shield.
“Allstate insured the property against theft and vandalism, but not terrorism.”


among vs. between
Things are divided between two people or things, but among more than two. Thus, “The royalties will be divided equally between Megan, Becky and Connie” implies that the money is to be split into two equal portions. Megan gets half; Becky and Connie split the other half. (The missing comma between Becky and Connie also supports the claim that Megan gets half while Becky and Connie split the other half.)


all right
Most dictionaries list alright as a legitimate word, but most book publishers do not consider it acceptable. Unless you are writing for a specific publisher, and you’re certain that publisher is all right with alright, spell it as two words: all right.