I remember the fuss and frustration from my teachers when they had to make the switch from teaching imperial measure to teaching metric. Metric hasn’t entirely stuck in Canada. Some things we measure in metric, others in imperial. It’s the simperial system I’ve been writing about lately. It’s not as simple as saying that distance is measured in metric (SI units) and weight is measured in imperial. No, we mix it up more than that, and an editor adapting a text needs to know what units apply in what situations.
The file was in a right hot mess. Cue editing stage sub-1: panic. The publisher wanted end notes created using Word’s built-in End Note feature. Numbering was to restart with each chapter. The author submitted this:
One of the signs of maturity in an editor is the realization that she imposes different sets of “rules” depending on the client’s preference. There are few indisputable rules, the editor realizes, as she is exposed to more and more sets of preferences.
Canadianizing a text often means converting measurements to the metric system. But it’s not as simple as plugging “6 ft to m” into Google. Converters are accurate, but they’re more like transliterations than translations.
First, outside of technical materials, measurements are usually imprecise. It’s often more appropriate to round a conversion. Six feet becomes two metres, not 1.83 m.