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About this site

Since 1995, when I had to preface most mentions of this site with an explanation along the lines of "You see, there's this thing called the Internet . . .," I've been foisting my opinions about the written word on the wired world.

I'm Bill Walsh, chief of the copy desk for the national desk of The Washington Post. This site is not affiliated with the Post; when I started it, in fact, I was across town at The Washington Times. I do this in my spare time -- the writing, the coding, everything. It's a one-man operation, and my only financial compensation is whatever I make selling the books and logo items I offer.

Did I mention books? In fall of 2000, Contemporary Books published my first dead-tree effort, "Lapsing Into a Comma: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--and How to Avoid Them." Some of the book's content came from this site, and the publisher insisted that I eliminate most of the overlap, so the site isn't as big as it once was, but it's growing new content at a good pace. In the spring of 2004, McGraw-Hill (which bought Contemporary) published my second book, "The Elephants of Style."

How to use this site

In a white box in the middle of the main page you'll find the newest bit of major content, dated for freshness. Usually that means an entry in SHARP POINTS (an extended rant on one usage topic). Shorter, more frequent entries can be found in THE BLOG.

If you're looking for more information about copy editing as a profession, you'll want to visit the WHAT EXACTLY IS A COPY EDITOR? section. I get a lot of requests for career advice, and it's in this section that you'll find my advice on how to become a copy editor.

Frequently asked questions

What does "slot" mean?

How can I become a copy editor?

How can I work at home as a copy editor?

Should I use one space or two spaces between sentences?

Is it "a historic" or "an historic"?

Why don't you use "smart" quotes and apostrophes?

Why do you leave out serial commas / capitalize four-letter prepositions in headings / use quotation marks where you should use italics / not use en dashes?

FAQ: Is it "an ef-ay-cue" or "a fack"?


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