No closed doors: Accessible vs. assessable

If you Road-sign-464659_1920want to get your foot into the publishing world’s door, you’ll want to know the difference between accessible and assessable. These two words often are confused because of their similar pronunciations and spellings.

Accessible means easily entered, approached or obtained. For example: Our building is accessible by wheelchair. By the way, you don’t need to place “easily” before “accessible”; to be accessible implies ease.

Assessable is a quality of something for which the value, significance or extent of can be estimated or determined. For example: Among the assessable elements of writing are diction and a consistent point of view.
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My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.

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When to use an en dash vs. an em dash

Question-423604_1280Among the most common problems I see when proofreading for my clients is confusion over the en dash and the em dash. Oftentimes, the confusion is so great that inconsistent styles are used within a manuscript.

First, some definitions:
• En dash – This dash is longer than a hyphen and often about half the length of an em dash (though modern computers’ font options are differ and usually make this only an approximate), or the length of a capital N. Also called an “n dash,” “n-rule,” or “nut,” the en dash typically is used in a closed set of values, such as, “The score was 21–7.” You usually make an en dash on a computer keyboard by hitting the hyphen key and then a return.
• Em dash – This dash is typically twice the length of an en dash, or the length of a capital M. Also called an “m dash,” “m-rule,” or “mutton,” the em dash usually is used to show an idea that is set apart, such as “A character’s passions, desires and fears allow for conflict–and hence your plot–to occur.”

And now comes a whole new set of problems. No one really can agree how the spacing should appear after an em dash. “The Chicago Style of Manual” says no spaces should appear before or after an em dash, as in the above example. Canadian and United Kingdom typography organizations and publishing houses tend to prefer spaces around an en dash.

Confounding this is that software and computer engineers could care less about the issue. Because of this, there’s no key for an em dash on most computers. In addition, typographically the justification of text across a line sometimes makes text appear odd when the em dash connects two words. Spell checks aren’t happy with it, either.

I propose that like “who” and “whom,” the en dash and em dash are increasingly irrelevant and that a simplification of the rules is necessary. Unless an editor or a publisher specifically suggests following a specific format (such as “The Chicago Style of Manual”), I typically edit en dashes in closed sets of values to be a hyphen. When setting ideas apart, I replace the em dash with an en dash, and to make the justified lines more readable, add spaces before or after the em dash.

Call me a heretic, if you must. But most readers (let alone authors) don’t know the difference between an en dash and an em dash. Readers do know, however, when a line is typographically difficult to read. And if your publisher or editor doesn’t like it, she always can change it.

Whichever approach you use, though, always be consistent in its application.
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My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.

Which is correct? Among vs. amongst

Both forms of the word are acceptable. “Among” is more common, however, perhaps because “amongst” sounds a bit old-fashioned. For that reason, I invariably change “amongst” to “among when editing – unless the book is a historical novel or a sword and sorcery tale. As a side note, most publishers prefer “among” as it’s shorter and so takes up less space.
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My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.