Oct 4

If you ever won­der, “What do edi­tors actu­ally do?”, this video intro­duc­tion to The Chicago Man­ual of Style will give you a quick look. It’s one of the tools I use the most — and one of my favorites!

cmos-coverYou might be sur­prised to dis­cover how many aspects of writ­ing we edi­tors con­stantly watch for, double-check, and cor­rect — all with the aim of mak­ing what­ever piece we’re work­ing on as artic­u­late, cred­i­ble, and pro­fes­sional as possible.

LINK TO VIDEO: Intro­duc­tion to the Chicago Man­ual of Style

If you are an aspir­ing edi­tor or pro­lific author look­ing to pub­lish, this man­ual — con­sid­ered “the gold stan­dard” for main­stream writ­ing — might be a great tool for you.* (If you’re writ­ing for an aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tion or a jour­nal or mag­a­zine, be sure to ask which style guide they prefer.)

*NOTE: I receive no com­pen­sa­tion of any sort should you decide to click through from the end of the video to try CMOS.

Aug 31

AaCap­i­tal­iz­ing words in an attempt to lend them empha­sis or impor­tance is near the top of this copyeditor’s (and prob­a­bly many oth­ers’) list of pet peeves. Peo­ple! A pri­mary use of ital­ics is to empha­size words. Under­lin­ing is another, albeit some­what anti­quated, way to do so. All-capping does the trick in infor­mal writ­ing, though you have to be care­ful: it can be taken as shouting–whether angry or excited, des­per­ate or freaked out. But Nowhere in mod­ern writ­ing of Eng­lish has mid-sentence cap­i­tal­iza­tion been taught as a way to show empha­sis. (See what I did there? Just demon­strat­ing the break­ing of The Rule.) Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 20

No Trespassing sign

photo by Julie Jor­dan Scott https://​www​.flickr​.com/​p​e​o​p​l​e​/​j​u​l​i​e​j​o​r​d​a​n​s​c​ott/

Mary Nor­ris, a query proof­reader at The New Yorker mag­a­zine, writes in the Feb­ru­ary 23, 2015, issue:

There is a fancy word for “going beyond your province”: “ultra­crep­i­date.” So much of copy edit­ing is about not going beyond your province. Anti-ultracrepidationism. Writ­ers might think we’re apply­ing rules and stick­ing it to their prose in order to make it fit some stan­dard, but just as often we’re back­ing off, mak­ing excep­tions, or at least try­ing to find a bal­ance between doing too much and doing too lit­tle. A lot of the deci­sions you have to make as a copy edi­tor are sub­jec­tive. For instance, an issue that comes up all the time, whether to use “that” or “which,” depends on what the writer means. It’s inter­pre­tive, not mechanical.…

This is so true! As I copy­edit someone’s work, I con­sider my job, first and fore­most, not to be mak­ing all gram­mar and punc­tu­a­tion rigidly cor­rect. In the first place, how — or whether — punc­tu­a­tion is used is, as Nor­ris states, inter­pre­tive, so I’m always striv­ing to under­stand what the author wants read­ers to under­stand. If an author’s comma will lead read­ers to under­stand a sen­tence dif­fer­ently than what I believe the author intends, it’s my job to remove that comma — even if the author really likes that comma! If I’m not sure what the author intends in a sen­tence, it’s my job to query him or her and double-check. Read the rest of this entry »

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