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Copyediting
Advice, resources, and the occasional rant from around the web
Curated by Jason Pearce
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A Plea for Sanity this National (US) Grammar Day

A Plea for Sanity this National (US) Grammar Day | Copyediting | Scoop.it

I love National Grammar Day. I also hate National Grammar Day. That may be surprising--after all, I'm a journeyman grammarian. I make my bread deciding whether a word is an attributive noun or adjective...

Jason Pearce's insight:

A welcome intolerance for "asshattery in the name of grammar."

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How to Improve Your Editing Skills: Part 1 | Copyediting.com

How to Improve Your Editing Skills: Part 1 | Copyediting.com | Copyediting | Scoop.it
Jason Pearce's insight:

"Even thoroughly trained and experienced editors can be lulled into seeing only a limited field of errors and applying a limited set of fixes. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at some ways you can hone your red-pen craft."

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‘The Story of Ain’t,’ by David Skinner

‘The Story of Ain’t,’ by David Skinner | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"Dictionary making has always been a much misunderstood art. The lexicographer’s job is to capture the language as people use it and understand it. But most people who go to a dictionary don’t care about common usage. They want to know what’s right.

     This conflict is at the heart of 'The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published.' David Skinner, the editor of Humanities magazine, revisits the brouhaha that greeted the most misunderstood dictionary of all time, Webster’s Third New International."

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harm·less drudg·ery: No Logic in “Etymological”: A Response I Actually Sent

"Today I got an email from someone who watched the “irregardless” video and was appalled (though in the gentlest and kindest manner possible) that I said “irregardless” was a word. . . .

     English is a little bit like a child. We love and nurture it into being, and once it gains gross motor skills, it starts going exactly where we don’t want it to go: it heads right for the goddamned light sockets. We put it in nice clothes and tell it to make friends, and it comes home covered in mud, with its underwear on its head and someone else’s socks on its feet. We ask it to clean up or to take out the garbage, and instead it hollers at us that we don’t run its life, man. Then it stomps off to its room to listen to The Smiths in the dark."

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Semicolons; So Tricky

Semicolons; So Tricky | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"One of the pleasures of a recent piece on semicolons by Ben Dolnick, in the Times (“Semicolons: A Love Story”), was his reference to William James, whose deft use of the semicolon to pile on clauses, Dolnick writes, is “a way of saying to the reader, who is already holding one bag of groceries, here, I know it’s a lot, but can you take another?” I like this because it reminds me that I have always meant to read “The Varieties of Religious Experience”; also because it makes the point that we learn how to punctuate by reading. Finally, the image of the grocery bags reinforces the idea that semicolons are all about balance."

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Help Me Understand My Copy Editor: A Lingua Franca Dialogue, Part I

Help Me Understand My Copy Editor: A Lingua Franca Dialogue, Part I | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"For some days now, my Lingua Franca colleague Carol Saller and I have been exchanging queries on the productive but sometimes perplexing relationship between writers and their copy editors. Below are some of the fruits of our exchange."

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Book Indexing, Part 2: Infinite Loops and Easter Eggs - Lingua Franca - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Book Indexing, Part 2: Infinite Loops and Easter Eggs - Lingua Franca - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"Many readers are unaware of the mischief book indexers get up to"

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Sylvia Hunter, Why Copy Editors Matter, Journal of Scholarly Publishing

Sylvia Hunter, Why Copy Editors Matter, Journal of Scholarly Publishing | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"In the university press world ... we are supposed to be in the business of disseminating solid, important, painstaking scholarly research, and we are supposed to take the time to do it properly. Journal editors and learned societies enter into partnerships with publishers because of what we can contribute to their work: eyecatching (but not misleading) covers, clear and readable interior design, thoughtful editing, careful proofreading, professional customer relations, efficient distribution. Our workstations may not be shiny, and we may not have the entertainment budgets allotted to our forprofit peers, but at least we are supposed to be able to turn a manuscript into a clear, polished, correct, and professional book or a journal article that communicates the contributors’ ideas to the people who are interested in reading them. If we can’t do that, what are we here for?"

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Wikipedia articles needing copy edit

Wikipedia articles needing copy edit | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"The Guild of Copy Editors March copy edit drive has now ended, with a reduction of 500 in the backlog, the best result for a year. . . . This page is currently receiving attention from the Guild of Copy Editors. Information and assistance can be found at the project page and our talk page. Anyone who copy edits articles, or wishes to start, is welcome to join the project – all help is appreciated!"

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Citing a Tweet (It’s Not Just for Twits), Carol Saller, Lingua Franca

Citing a Tweet (It’s Not Just for Twits), Carol Saller, Lingua Franca | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"There was online chatter recently when the Modern Language Association posted its style for citing a tweet. This didn’t surprise me. What surprised me was the amount of backlash from commenters who are still shocked at the idea of Twitter as a legitimate source of information for scholars; who cling to the idea that Twitter data consists only of what millions of users ate for breakfast; who not only choose to remain stubbornly ignorant of the technology, but are willing to boast of it in public."

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An American Editor blog: Are Editors to LinkedIn Like Oil is to Water? by Ruth Thaler-Carter

"The positive side is that I’m increasing my level of visibility and status as an expert in writing, editing, proofreading, and freelancing in general; I’ve gotten some new, well-paying clients through my activity in most of these environments; I’ve made wonderful friends and gained valuable colleagues; I’ve learned a lot, especially from CEL; I’m usually up to date on breaking news, both in my profession and in the world at large; and I like to think I’m helping people do things better and more professionally than they might otherwise. That’s a mitzvah — a good deed, a service to other people — and I do believe in networking from a helping perspective, not just for promoting or getting something for oneself."

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Stephen Legault, Pressing Send

"The truth of the matter is I want to be edited hard. I know that my strength as a writer isn’t in sentence structure or spelling or grammar. In school I studied limnology, not literature. I have no idea what the difference is between an adverb and an adjective is. I know I mess up loose and lose and call beagles bagels and frequently confuse the subject and object of a sentence (though even now, writing that, I can’t help but wonder what those really are or if I just made that up in my head)."

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Cormac McCarthy the book editor - Telegraph

Cormac McCarthy the book editor - Telegraph | Copyediting | Scoop.it

Renowned author Cormac McCarthy edits a book on physics - and takes out all
the exclamation marks and semicolons.

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On being edited

On being edited | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"Writers are always being told by other writers (and editors) about the importance of being edited. But what does it actually feel like to have someone go through your precious words with that dreaded red pen? Only recently, as I’ve struggled with edits in my own book, have I realised how my clients must feel when they receive their poor corrected texts back from me. I hope this new understanding will help me to be a better editor …"

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Social Media: New Editing Tools or Weapons of Mass Distraction?

Social Media: New Editing Tools or Weapons of Mass Distraction? | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"Despite the exponential rise of social media use in the publishing industry, very little is known about its impact on the editing profession. The aim of this paper is to investigate how editors and proofreaders use social media tools in their work. The first part is a descriptive study of users and uses of social media in the context of editing. The second part critically evaluates the positive and negative aspects of using social media tools for work and explores practical implications. The results of a survey of 330 editors and proofreaders indicate that the use of social media tools is motivated chiefly by the interpersonal utility and information-seeking behavior. While social media tools are seen as easy to use, their perceived usefulness varies. Moreover, they are considered to be time consuming and distractive. Other concerns, and indeed barriers to the adoption of social media, are linked with the blending of professional and private identity, the merging of working and personal life, and issues surrounding privacy and author’s confidentiality."

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The Most Comma Mistakes

The Most Comma Mistakes | Copyediting | Scoop.it
Rules about when to use and not to use commas are legion. But certain errors keep popping up.
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Why language isn't computer code

Why language isn't computer code | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"The disanalogies between computer code and language are as important as the analogies. A single missing character or bit of puntuation will cause a computer program to run improperly, while the "c" omitted from "punctuation" back there probably only caused you to slow down for a fraction of a second, if you noticed it at all. The literalness of computers is the source of human nightmares; if they ever decide that the world will be better off without humans, computers will wipe us out without shedding a tear. The difference between human communication and computer code is also behind much real-world confusion and irritation. Decades of brilliant research and billions of dollars spent has given us computers that can handle human language only as well as the flawed Siri, when the average five-year-old, with no formal training at all, can understand language Siri couldn't dream of parsing."

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Comma splices: historical and informal, not wrong

Comma splices: historical and informal, not wrong | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"Comma splices were perfectly normal in 18th century punctuation. Starting the 19th century, as English punctuation codified, they were left somewhat on the outside, possibly due to their close connection to speech. They remain standard for informal writing, especially when short, closely connected clauses are being spliced. There is nothing inherently wrong with a comma splice, although when overused or used by a tin-eared writer, they can sound like run-ons."

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OxfordWords blog, Faceoff: ‘he’, ‘he or she’, ‘he/she’, ‘s/he’ versus ‘they’

OxfordWords blog, Faceoff: ‘he’, ‘he or she’, ‘he/she’, ‘s/he’ versus ‘they’ | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"Of course, I always aim to stay within the bounds of good English, but I inadvertently incurred the ire of some people with the following sentence, in a recent blog about forming plurals of loanwords:

Ironically, the person who wrote the question above is revealing their own ignorance.

My faux pas? I used a singular noun (person) followed by the plural possessive determiner their. It’s clearly a contentious issue."

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Book Indexing, Part 1: Is a Computer the Right Person for the Job? - Lingua Franca - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Book Indexing, Part 1: Is a Computer the Right Person for the Job? - Lingua Franca - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"Of course I understand how computers can scan and tag and sort, and I understand that in many ways they are more accurate and reliable than humans, and thank god for that. Computers can write lists and outlines and concordances, and they can keep track of page numbers. But for a useful and intelligent book index, you need a thinking human."

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Attention anal retentives: The A.V. Club is looking for a copyeditor

Attention anal retentives: The A.V. Club is looking for a copyeditor | Copyediting | Scoop.it

Attention readers who love to nitpick us: If you're so smart, why don't you apply to be a copyeditor here, huh? Huh, tough guy? Details below.

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From 'App' To 'Tea': English Examined In '100 Words' : NPR

From 'App' To 'Tea': English Examined In '100 Words' : NPR | Copyediting | Scoop.it
Linguist David Crystal describes English as "a vacuum cleaner of a language" — speakers merrily swipe some words from other languages, adopt others because they're cool or sound classy and simply make up other terms.

 

Crystal believes every word has a story to tell, even the ones as commonplace as "and." In his new book, he tells The Story of English in 100 Words, he compiles a collection of words — classic words like "tea" and new words like "app" — that explain how the the English language has evolved.

 

He tells NPR's Neal Conan [in this audio clip] about the challenge of compiling this list and the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

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Katharine O'Moore-Klopf: How Do You Know When You Know Enough?

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf: How Do You Know When You Know Enough? | Copyediting | Scoop.it

"There are only a few certifications available for editors, such as those offered by the Editors' Association of Canada and the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, and many academic degree programs and courses are out there, lots of them offered by profession-related associations. But there are no national licensing boards for editors, and editing itself is still largely learned on the job, often as sort of an apprenticeship. And editing is a solitary occupation; we editors don't usually sit around in groups and edit, unless we're members of one of the rapidly disappearing newsroom copy desks. All of that can make it hard for individual editors to judge their own skill levels."

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The Fact-Checker Versus the Fabulist

The Fact-Checker Versus the Fabulist | Copyediting | Scoop.it

'Thus begins the alternately absorbing and infuriating exercise that is the book “The Lifespan of a Fact,” a Talmudically arranged account of the conflict between Jim Fingal, zealous [fact] checker, and John D’Agata, nonfiction fabulist, which began in 2005 and resulted in this collaboration. D’Agata’s original paragraphs appear in chunks at the center of the pages, and their exchanges on the disputed facts in question appear in the marginal running text. D’Agata starts with the casual assurance that the article doesn’t need to be fact-checked, but the process is standard at most magazines, and it remains a fundamental, if hidden, support for their credibility. And besides, the only reason the article ended up at The Believer in the first place was that Harper’s had already killed it — on the recommendation of its own fact-checker.'

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Shamus Sillar, Literal slip not welcome in my book

Shamus Sillar, Literal slip not welcome in my book | Copyediting | Scoop.it

My publisher tells me - with remorse, not pride - that I'm her first erratum slip in 20 years in the business. But I'm in decent company. James Bond creator Ian Fleming, angered by legal proceedings surrounding his book Goldfinger, threatened to include an erratum slip changing the main character's name to ''Goldprick''. Lonely Planet printed 40,000 copies of a guide with ''WESTEN EUROPE'' on the spine, before adding a humorous erratum slip that recounted the staff's feverish conversation upon discovering the error. And a 1984 collection of short stories by Scottish author Alasdair Gray included the following message on a loose piece of paper: ''ERRATUM: This slip has been inserted by mistake.''

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