Editors of English throughout the world will gather in three weeks in Toronto for Editing Goes Global, a national conference with the most international flavor yet. Hundreds attendees are expected, and at least 10 countries are represented: Canada, the United States, Great Britain, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Morocco, Cambodia, and Ghana.
I’ve known many copyeditors who fixate on that as a word that serves little purpose and can be deleted without much thought about the sentence that surrounds it. It is often optional, but that doesn’t mean it never provides clarity.
William Zinsser, who died on Tuesday at 92, believed that writing should be simple and direct and that it should reflect the enthusiasm of the writer. His treatise, On Writing Well, influenced a generation of writers, and Zinsser continued to share his wisdom throughout his life.
“I have nothing but contempt for anyone who can spell a word only one way,” is one of those great things Thomas Jefferson never said but we sure wish he did. We do tend to insist on single spellings, more so than we did during Jefferson’s time, except to allow for the American variations handed down by the reform-minded Noah Webster.
I changed another comprised of to composed of in an editing assignment yesterday, not because the word doesn’t have a well-established second meaning, but because it’s one of those things sticklers love to stickle.
Copyeditors know that the whole comprises the parts, that comprises means iscomposed of. Comprised of is considered poor usage. So is saying parts comprise the whole, which is a common usage that could cause confusion.
"Without graphics, an idea may be lost in a sea of words. Without words, a graphic may be lost in ambiguity," Billion Dollar Graphics.
Professional Editorial Standard C5 put out by the Editors’ Association of Canada says an editor will “recognize when graphic elements must be edited to clearly and effectively convey the intended meaning.” But how can a wordsmith (such as editors tend to be) learn to assess visuals?
Part of the debate around our reactions to the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent protesting and rioting in Baltimore is the language used. Are the rioters thugs? Are the protestors rioting? Are the rioters actually protesting or just destroying things?
One of those shibboleths that make one part of the newspaper copyeditors’ club is that Champagne is capitalized, as it is named after the region in France, and that if it’s not from the Champagne region, it’s simply a sparkling wine.
I’m giving a presentation tomorrow in Columbus, and the setup contract includes a “standing podium.” I knew that meant we’ll be getting a lectern on which to put our notes as we speak, and not a small stage or a soap box to stand on.