In editing circles, we often talk about frequently confused words, like compose and comprise and affect and effect. We work hard to ensure that our authors are using the correct words. These confusables don’t get much play in popular media—unless there are unintentional, humorous results. The more obvious or funny the mistake, the better.
I noted that one wrinkle in applying sentence-style capitalization to the title of a book, poem, song, or other work of art was determining whether a person’s title was formal or descriptive. Formal titles are, in essence, proper nouns and are capped, both in the main text and in headlines and titles. Descriptive titles are common nouns and are lowercased.
One copyediting task that should be easy but can be a nightmare is how to capitalize the titles of works, such as books, magazines, articles, and songs—what The AP Stylebook refers to as “compositions.”
The task should be as simple as following a manuscript’s style guide, applying either sentence capitalization or headline capitalization.
But the task is not as simple as it seems, particularly for copyeditors who frequently work in more than one style.
I don’t know how other industries survive. All the politics, back-biting, and in-fighting can make it hard to go to your colleague with a question or request. In some industries, colleagues just aren’t supportive of one another.
Not so with editors.
Maybe it’s because even when we work on large staffs (are there any left?), we work alone. Maybe it’s the temperament common among editors, one that leans toward helpfulness rather than hindrance. Maybe it’s just because language has humbled us. After all, who hasn’t wrestled at least once with a sentence or paragraph and lost?
Recently, our own Katharine O’Moore-Klopf recommended that editors resolve to build a better network this year. If you’ve taken on the challenge, one of the best ways to get the most bang for your buck is to attend a conference. Not only will you be able to network with colleagues and potential clients and employers, you’ll also learn a lot in the sessions themselves.
Last week, gunmen entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people and injured others, reportedly for its treatment of Islam in its pages, particularly its treatment of Mohammed in political cartoons.
No matter what you think of the content in Charlie Hebdo, I hope we can all agree that murdering people who write and draw offensive things is wrong.
It seems amazing to me that not so many years ago, it was hard to find good articles about editing and language. Now there’s so much quality information being published that it’s hard to keep up with it all, even just here on Copyediting.
To help you catch up, here are some of our favorite blog posts from 2014:
With the holidays fast approaching, you might find that you still need a gift for your favorite copyeditor—yourself! Give yourself the gift of new skills with one of these favorite books from my 2014 review list.