10 writing pet peeves

Some are a matter of preference; others are concrete rules. Either way, these writing tics can lead one to pull his or her hair out.


They’re like nails on a chalkboard, the sound traveling up and down your spine. They burn, they hurt, they annoy.

I’m talking about writing pet peeves—those grammar mistakes, usage gaffes, spelling errors, and style slips that you immediately change, no matter whose work you’re editing.

We all have writing pet peeves, though what annoys us varies. Here are a few of mine:

• The use of over with a quantity—over $65 million or over 10 percent. I change over to more thanmore than $65 million or more than 10 percent.

• I hate periods in a phone number—512. 777.7777. I always use hyphens—512-777-7777.

• Capitalization of common (non-proper) nouns drives me to drink. Words such as federal, state, law should not be capitalized unless they are part of a proper name or title, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

• Misuse of apostrophes, particularly 1990’s or 40’s or EKG’s

• Confusion between your/you’re and their/there/they’re

• Modifying absolutes—something can’t be very unique. It’s unique or it’s not.

• Two spaces after a period—I always use the find and replace feature to change two spaces to one.

Redundancies such as added bonus, free gift, reply back

• Lazy corporate verbs such as utilize, implement, and leverage

• Irregardless is not a word.

Ragan readers, what are some of your writing peeves?

[FREE DOWNLOAD: 10 punctuation essentials]

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor. She is a regular contributor to PR Daily and is also a founding partner of Affynity Web Solutions, a website development company. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.

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