With a real sense of spring blossoming in the United States and Canada, copyeditors are feeling an increase in energy and a desire to organize. If you’ve got spring fever, the first step is to go outside and do something you love. More than anything, this will renew your spirit, making you a better editor.
Back? OK, if you still have energy, here are five ways to use that energy in your editing life.
Writing and editing are related skills, and the more writers and editors know about each other’s work, the better they can work together. Because of this, I will sometimes recommend books for writers to copyeditors (e.g., the April–May 2011 issue of Copyediting).
Last week, I introduced the idea that copyeditors need more than a pedestrian understanding of grammar and that what we got in grade school is sorely outdated. This week, I look at some features of modern grammars and some good resources for catching up with the times.
When I hear a copyeditor quoting a zombie rule, such as “don’t split an infinitive,” I cringe.
Editors are not linguists or lexicographers. Neither, though, are we untrained speakers. We are professional communicators, and as such we should have more than a pedestrian understanding of language and how it works. We can’t rely on what we learned in sixth-grade English class to get by.
Last week, I talked about how to mash up different citation formats to fit an odd duck in your citation list. Got a research paper that’s available for download but doesn’t list an author? Combine a couple of standard citation examples, and you’re on your way. This week, I’ll review what to do when you have to create a citation format from scratch.
The point of any citation is to help the reader find the original source. The standard information given is:
At one point or another, most copyeditors have to deal with citations. They might be footnotes or endnotes, bibliographies, or references, but our job generally is to clean them up. We make sure all the necessary details are there, sometimes with the help of resources like BibMe (see our October–November 2014 newsletter for a review). We also ensure citations follow the style manual assigned to the project, often by flipping through pages and pages of citations.
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.