When we copyeditors learn to edit, we tend to tackle one rule or one set of rules at a time. We practice reducing repetition in one exercise and fixing comma errors in another. But when we get to real-world editing, we’re trying to fix all the errors in one or two passes. We’re no longer editing in a vacuum, and one edit often leads to another.
Some weeks, everything I edit is a dream. Other weeks, well …
Last week was one of those “other” weeks. One stumbling block came from papers on the sharing economy. In a sharing economy, individuals and companies provide the use of products and services for less than the cost of owing them. Think of a vacation time-share, and you’ve got the idea.
Then, in a sentence that followed along naturally, he used the phrase “viable alternative,” and I marveled at how quickly he had learned the language of government. Longley likes the word “input” and on taking office accepted a $15,000 input to his salary.
After a long dry spell of books to review, I now have a stack on my desk wanting my attention. In an effort to review books for you before they hit the remainder bin at your local bookstore, this week’s Tip covers two dictionary-style books: The Right Word and The Oxford Dictionary of Journalism.
Every profession has its hazards, some more serious than others. Professional drivers know that if they drive too long, they risk falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident.
Last week, a few examples of the hazards of being a professional copyeditor were on display. I don’t mean there were copyeditors charged with vandalizing public signs. Instead, there were cases of editors missing the forest for the trees and of editors judging harshly without thinking or researching.
Most of us understand that the rules in style books are guidelines. The publisher chooses whether to follow all the rules of, say, The Chicago Manual of Style or to pick and choose based on what works for the publication. The changes or exceptions are then listed in a house style guide or in a project style sheet.
Generally, copyeditors are told which rules to follow and which to ignore. We’re given a copy of the house style guide and asked to keep (or follow) a style sheet.
This semester I’ve been teaching Copyediting II in an online certificate program. The middle of three core courses, Copyediting II focuses on what Amy Einsohn calls language editing—grammar, usage, syntax, and diction. During the lesson on parallelism, one student asked about when copyeditors should edit for parallelism. “What criteria require restructuring the whole sentence?” she asked.