Meet the Instructor: Frances Peck

Written by Carl Rosenberg; copy edited by Katie Beaton

Frances Peck

On Saturday, February 29, Editors BC will present a full-day seminar by Frances Peck on usage woes and myths. For anyone intent on preventing (not avoiding) word errors and avoiding (not preventing) usage myths, this seminar will be of great help. People attending will get an up-to-date look at some of the most misunderstood and contentious points of English usage, and identify helpful guides and other resources. 

Frances Peck is a Certified Professional Editor (Hon.) and writer who has worked with words for nearly 30 years. She has taught at the University of Ottawa, Douglas College, SFU, UBC, and dozens of organizations across Canada. She prepared the Canadian edition of The St. Martin’s Workbook, a university grammar exercise book; co-authored the popular HyperGrammar website; and wrote Peck’s English Pointers, a collection of articles and quizzes available on the Language Portal of Canada. Frances lives in North Vancouver and is a partner with West Coast Editorial Associates.

Carl Rosenberg, a volunteer on Editors BC’s communications and social media committee, spoke to Frances about her work and forthcoming presentation.   

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February 29, 2020: Usage Woes and Myths

What: Editors BC professional development seminar
When: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: Room 400, 4th floor, BCIT Downtown Campus, 555 Seymour Street, Vancouver | map
Cost: $165 for Editors Canada members ($135 early bird), $230 for non-members ($200 early bird), and $100 for student affiliates. Advance registration required. Registration closes February 25; early-bird rates are in effect through February 11.

You’ve sorted out imply and infer. You know it’s not all right to use alright. Hopefully, you accept impact as a verb (not to mention hopefully as a sentence adverb). But what about more troublesome usage points, like the difference between may and might? Or such commonly misused words as dilemma and fulsome? Do you always have to change though to althoughtill to until? For anyone intent on preventing (not avoiding) word errors and avoiding (not preventing) usage myths, this seminar will help. 

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Book Review: Dreyer’s English

Written by Frances Peck; copy edited by Annette Gingrich

Review of “Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style” by Benjamin Dreyer (Random House, 2019).

"Dreyer's English" by Benjamin Dreyer

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style hit the shelves a year ago. Or perhaps I should say it briefly touched the shelves, seeing as copies sold as fast as they could be printed. Repeating the improbable success of the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne TrussBenjamin Dreyer’s guide sold umpteen copies and topped bestseller lists.

I’ve long followed Dreyer on Twitter, where he is natty, chatty, and sometimes catty. The same irresistible combination makes his book, from cover to cover, a trove of delights.

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A leather notebook with a navigation symbol rests against the edge of a laptop on a brown, shiny surface near two mechanical pencils.
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Event Review: Editors BC’s Seminar, “Getting the Message Across: Clear Writing Tips”

Written by Joanna Vandervlugt; copy edited by Maggie Clark

On Saturday, February 23, 2019, I attended Frances Peck’s seminar for Editors BC, “Getting the Message Across: Clear Writing Tips.”

Despite coming over from Vancouver Island, I found this seminar’s location convenient. The seminar was set up in Vancouver at the BCIT Downtown Campus. This place was an easily accessible one for those who were familiar with the SkyTrain routes like myself.

After reaching my destination from the SkyTrain and settling in, I got to know a bit more about the other class participants. We introduced ourselves, and it seemed that the seminar participants ranged from proofreaders, editors, writers, and academics. Many commented that they were a fan of Frances, and I soon learned why.

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Meet the Instructor: Frances Peck

Written by Carl Rosenberg; copy edited by Kristin Lathrop

This image displays a head shot of Frances Peck smiling.

On Saturday, February 23, Editors BC presents Frances Peck’s seminar, “Getting the Message Across: Clear Writing Tips.” So if you want to improve your ability to quickly convey a clear message to your audience, you’re in luck.


The ability to be concise when dealing with reports, briefings, emails, or any other documents is crucial for an audience to get your message. But too often that message gets buried by weak organization, unnecessary detail, abstract language, and other barriers to readability.

Whether you’re a writer or an editor, this seminar will show you how to create documents that meet readers’ needs and get the message across. Topics include writing faster and better (a four-step process); understanding what your readers want (and don’t want); highlighting your key messages; making ideas flow; and eliminating wordiness, abstractions, and jargon. (See the registration page for more details.)

Frances Peck, a partner with West Coast Editorial Associates, is a writer and Certified Professional Editor (Hon.) who specializes in editing and rewriting for clarity. She has taught for the University of Ottawa, Douglas College, SFU, UBC, Editors Canada, and many public and private sector organizations. Frances wrote Peck’s English Pointers, a free collection of articles and quizzes available on the Language Portal of Canada, and is a co-author of the HyperGrammar website.

Carl Rosenberg, a volunteer on Editors BC’s communications and social media committee, spoke to Frances about her work on writing.

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Rows of desks face a projection screen in a classroom-like environment.
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February 23, 2019: Getting the Message Across: Clear Writing Tips

What: Editors BC professional development seminar
When: Saturday, February 23, 2019, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: Room 476, 4th floor, BCIT Downtown Campus, 555 Seymour Street, Vancouver | map
Cost: $165 for Editors Canada members ($135 early bird), $230 for non-members ($200 early bird), and $100 for student affiliates. Advance registration required. Registration closes February 19; early-bird rates are in effect through February 5.

Reports, policies, briefings, emails, and other informational documents have a simple goal: to deliver a message quickly and clearly to a target audience. But too often that message gets buried by weak organization, unnecessary detail, abstract language, unhelpful layout, and other barriers to readability.

This workshop will show you how to create and edit documents that meet readers’ needs and get the message across every time. Topics include

  • writing faster and better: a four-step process
  • understanding what your readers want (and don’t want)
  • organizing information to meet readers’ needs
  • highlighting your key messages
  • using layout to boost readability
  • making your ideas flow
  • eliminating wordiness, abstractions, and jargon
  • revising and proofreading your work

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Rows of desks face a projection screen in a classroom-like environment.
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November 24, 2018: Grammar Rules and Myths

Our November seminar has been cancelled due to low registration. Please check back in January. In the meantime, you can learn about our cancellation policy for seminars.

What: Editors BC professional development seminar
When: Saturday, November 24, 2018, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: Room 381, 3rd floor, BCIT Downtown Campus, 555 Seymour Street, Vancouver | map
Cost: $165 for Editors Canada members ($135 early bird), $230 for non-members ($200 early bird), and $100 for student affiliates. Advance registration required. Registration closes November 20; early-bird rates are in effect through November 13.

In the November workshop, Frances Peck will cover tricky instances of agreement, pronoun case (including everyone’s favourite, who and whom), and modifier form and placement. She’ll discuss the most widespread errors, including comma splices and dangling modifiers. And she’ll investigate some tenacious grammar myths and review the rules that have changed over time. The seminar will include exercises, self-tests, and time for individual questions.

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