50 Problem Words and Phrases


Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to conceive written communication. So many pairs or trios of words and phrases stymie us with their resemblance to each other. Here’s a quick guide to alleviate (or is it ameliorate?) your suffering:

  1. a while / awhile: “A while” is a noun phrase; awhile is an adverb.
  2. all together / altogether: All together now — “We will refrain from using that two-word phrase to end sentences like this one altogether.”
  3. amend / emend: To amend is to change; to emend is to correct.
  4. amount / number: Amount refers to a mass (“The amount saved is considerable”); number refers to a quantity (“The number of dollars saved is considerable”).
  5. between / among: The distinction is not whether you refer to two people or things or to three or more; it’s whether you refer to one thing and another or to a collective or undefined number — “Walk among the trees,” but “Walk between two trees.”

View more on the DailyWritingTips website.

TWiT's Marketing Mavericks talks about the future of print and digital media

Host Tonya Hall with guests: Jeff Jarvis, Scott Monty, and Brian Reich talk about the leaked New York Times Innovation Report and what it means for New Media.

A few highlights

  1. 6:50 – Should not think of being in the content business rethink we are a service that makes our communities smarter… success is not measure by page views but rather if we help communities do what the community wants to do ... study and practice of engagement. (Jeff Jarvis)
  2. 21:30 – The print product has to become your bi product (Jeff Jarvis)
  3. 23:40 – "Do what you do best and link to the rest” (Jeff Jarvis)
  4. 27:40 – using the content we have from past issues, i.e.. current content referring to old content  (Scott Monty)

Using the hyphen, en-dash and em-dash



Typically used to act as a comma or parenthesis to separate phrases—or even just a word—in a sentence for various reasons (i.e. an appositive).

  • School is based on the three R’s—reading, writing, and ’rithemtic.
  • Against all odds, Pete—the unluckiest man alive—won the lottery.


Used to connect values in a range or that are related. A good rule is to use it when you're expressing a "to" relationship.

  • in years 2013–2014
  • pages 10–12
  • Jets won 3–2


Used to join words in a compound construction, or separate syllables of a word.

  • pro-Canadian
  • same-sex couples
  • em-dash
  • it's pronounced hos-pi-tal-it-tee

minus sign

  • 4 − 2 = 2.

Typing en & em dashes on a Mac 

  • en-dash: option-hyphen
  • em-dash: option-shift-hyphen


  • en-dash: &ndash
  • em-dash: &mdash
  • minus sign: &minus

Source: English Language & Usage


The Elements of Typographic Style recommends the spaced en dash – like so – and argues that the length and visual magnitude of an em dash "belongs to the padded and corseted aesthetic of Victorian typography."[36] In the United Kingdom, the spaced en dash is the house style for certain major publishers, including the Penguin Group, the Cambridge University Press, and Routledge. But this convention is not universal. The Oxford Guide to Style (2002, section 5.10.10) acknowledges that the spaced en dash is used by "other British publishers", but states that the Oxford University Press—like "most US publishers"—uses the unspaced em dash.

Source: Wikipedia

Creative ways to thank volunteers


A Great Volunteer Is Worth More Than You Think

– From: about.com via Wild Apricot

Here are a variety of ways to recognize volunteers that you can incorporate into your menu of kudos:

  1. Ask for the mayor’s involvement. Get your city’s mayor to bestow some special proclamation for your top volunteer (or volunteers).
  2. VIP parking. It may not sound like much, but on a large campus or an urban location, a special parking spot can be a very appreciated gift. Designate a certain portion of your parking lot for “most dedicated” volunteers or have a handy location earmarked for your “volunteer of the month.”
  3. Send handwritten notes of appreciation. Not creative? In these days of email and texting and cell phones, handwritten notes, sent through the mail, are becoming increasingly rare. So when it happens, it’s noticed and appreciated.
  4. Host an event for the families of your volunteers. Try a picnic, a bowling party, hot air balloon rides, an ice cream social or some other fun-filled day.
  5. Host a “this is your life” event. Host a special recognition event for a longtime, retiring volunteer. Invite fellow volunteers, the volunteer’s family, friends and associates as well as your nonprofit’s employees. Stage brief skits that re-enact milestone events from the volunteer’s life.

For nine more ideas go to: About.com Nonprofit Charitable Orgs

How to keep an abstract random person organized

I'm good at...

I've aways been able to keep my documents and email organized by sorting them into an alphebetized system of folders. This results in folders within folders within folders. I can pretty much find anything in my computer or house for that matter... but it may take some time. I'm also good at creating lists.

I'm not good at...

Yes, I am good at creating lists BUT I have a huge problem in following them. It is a fact that I have created an agenda but forgot to invite people to the meeting!

The biggest problem I had was remembering what needs doing and when. After receiving an email that required me to do something, I did one of the following:  added it to a list, flagged it, marked it as unread, or just let it to sink to the bottom of the pile never to be viewed again until the client called asking why I hadn't completed the task. Sound familiar?

Evernote to the rescue

My favourite feature of Evernote is that it allows you to forward email to Evernote. Not only does the email end up in Evernote, but you can tell it exactly where to go within the system and tag it before you send it.

The how to

Within Evernote, I created tags called "Action" and "Done". In the subject line of the email, add @Inbox (or any notebook's name) and then #action to tag it. In Evernote, I have created a search for "Action minus Done". Obviously, the search finds all the email with the tag "Action" but not any with the tag "Done". Brilliant! There in front of my eyes is a detailed list of all the things I need to do. When completing the job prescribed by the email, I tag it "Done" and it disappears from the list. It is a great feeling.

Here is a video and step by step description on how to send email to Evernote.

Elements+ - a great addition to Photoshop Elements 12

I'm currently building a new site for the Manitoba Choral Association. The current one was built in 2005 and, needless to say is quite dated. It was one of my first pro websites.

In redesigning some of the logos, I needed to put some spacing between letters (tracking) but PSE does not allow that. I did a little search and found a small but pretty powerful add-on. Elements+ reveals hidden functions in Photoshop Elements that allow its feature set to approach the full Photoshop feature set.

I'm not sure if I'll ever use it again but it certainly did the job at hand. Cost $14. 

From CanSpace to Squarespace

Just had a great conversation with Sunil Singh, owner of CansSpace Solutions, about moving StationV.com from CanSpace to Squarespace. He was very helpful and relieved my concerns about the other domains I host with him within my StationV account. In addition, CanSpace will continue to handle my @stationv.com email. As you know, Squarespace does not host email. Thanks goes to Sunil and the staff at CanSpace for making this an easy transition.

Today I discovered Hemingway Style Editor


On yesterday's  MacBreak Weekly show on the TWiT network,  Andy Ihnatko announced Hemmingway as his app of the week. BRILLIANT! I'll never write again without it.

Hemingway is a fantastic app for writing that helps you write more clearly. It offers a number of features beyond your standard word processor, including highlighting long and complex sentences, giving you a readability level indicator, highlights adverbs, and gives you hints on simplifying your writing and avoiding passive voice.

Rebuilding my site with Squarespace

If the old adage is that a plumber has a leaky toilet, then I have been just as guilty by not getting my site rebuilt using Squarespace. Last year I started using Squarespace and built 6 sites for clients using this marvelous content management system.

Part of the hesitation was that I liked the look and feel of my site and, except for it not being mobile, there was no urgency. This week I started to rebuild my site (this one) and am loving the experience.