More Blog Posts

Friday, August 22, 2014 - 10:21am
Mark Allen
Is Scrabble Now a Game for the Young?

Scrabble is a game of strategy, probability, mathematics, and knowledge of obscure words—probably ill-suited to most copyeditors, who focus on the practical use of words. No matter. Copyeditors love anything to do with words, and so one of the great sporting events on a copyeditors calendar took place last week in Buffalo, N.Y.

The 25th annual National Scrabble Championships saw perennial winner Nigel Richards finish in 16th place...

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Editing, News
Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 9:04am
Mark Allen
Please Riposte (But at Least Repost)

In the era of Facebook and Twitter we’re reposting all the time, so it’s no surprise a fellow editor would see someone refer to a clever repost instead of a clever riposte.

The word repost is a natural formation that goes back hundreds of years: To repost is simply to post again. Post, as in mail, referred originally to travel by relay of horses. But you could probably ask someone in the 17th century to repost a sign that fell down and you’d be understood.

A riposte is a sharp retort or reply. The word is used in fencing: a quick thrust in return. But fencing got the term in Italian and French from the idea of a reply. At some point, when spelling was less a worry, learned people sometimes called...

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Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 5:20am
Erin Brenner
08/21/14 News Roundup: Grammar and Usage and Style, Oh My!

We’ve got a little bit of everything in today’s News Roundup. Check it out!

  • Broadcast(ed) and Forecast(ed)”: Why something that has been broadcast can also have been broadcasted. (Macmillan Dictionary Blog)
  • ‘Each’ Has Its Place”: When you can pair each with a plural verb. (Grammar Guide)
  • New Questions and Answers”: August’s wisdom includes the past tense of text, the acceptability of comma splices, and the verb form of login. (The Chicago Manual of Style Online)
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 12:01pm
Adrienne Montgomerie
Think of an Editor

What comes to mind? Picky grammar scolding? Reliable, resourceful, punctual? How about fun, fussy, or boring? How about cats, pyjamas, thick glasses, and dusty books? Or are you thinking of something more like the comic book representations of growly, harried newspaper editors? (Spoiler: there is an editor of every kind.)

Branding is on the minds of Canadian editors this week, as the national association* started rolling out the results of their rebranding exercise with a new logo and look for the blog and social media pages.

It’s hard to comment on the new look and style, since it’s unclear which parts of it are fixed and which will morph and change over time, reflecting the “always updating” nature of today’s online media. Questions about the only official public...

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 8:46am
Jeannette de Be...

So last week I approached the hard part of deciding to start a freelance business: the mindset. Oh, there will be challenges galore in the weeks and months (and years) to come, sans doute: but the real work is in your head.

And today I’d like to talk about the flip side to that mindset, the positives. Believe me, there are many.

Let’s start by talking time, because it’s one of the greatest gifts of freelancing. If I need to get my hair cut on a Wednesday afternoon, I can do that. If I’m walking on the beach in the morning—my favorite way to start the day—and I decide to stay a little longer, I can do that. If the grocery store is crowded beyond belief on the weekend, I can do my shopping Monday instead.

Of course, that’s because I don’t “...

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 8:20am
Erin Brenner
Tip of the Week: Cascading Decisions: When One Edit Leads to Another

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.

Last week’s Tip, “Spelling Nightmares: Can’t We All Use the Same Rules?” brought up several questions with readers, the answers to which can affect how the rest of a document is edited.

Hyphenation Confusion

One reader suggested that consulting...

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 5:25am
Erin Brenner
08/19/14 News Roundup: Freelance Editing

As a freelancer, you’re responsible for everything, from finding the clients to collecting money due. Today’s News Roundup is packed with tips to help you run a better business.

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Monday, August 18, 2014 - 8:40am
Adrienne Montgomerie
There’s a mistake in my copy!

So, you broke that number one rule: never open a finished book. Or worse: your client is upset about a lingering error. Relax. Take a breath. No one is perfect. A .950 save percentage is about the best any individual editor could ever hope for. Perfection is not the realm of humans. (Read about the scientific studies that support this.)

Editors, keep your perfectionism and obsessive tendencies in check. To err is human. For most materials, the goal of perfection is a perfect waste of time. The audience will understand it despite the possible annoyance of the occasional minor error.

Good enough will do just fine. There are other things that need your attention. Like chocolate, wine, and purring kittens. Those are...

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How to
Friday, August 15, 2014 - 11:12am
Mark Allen
Lack of Dictionary Raises Questions of Linguistic Identity

In the same week Oxford Dictionaries announced the inclusion of amazeballs, binge-watch, clickbait and many other new words into its online edition, the Toronto Globe and Mail asked a compelling question: Who is speaking up for Canadian English?

The article notes that Sunday is the 10-year anniversary of the last publication of the widely used Oxford Canadian Dictionary. The Oxford Canadian was created and published in 1998 and updated in 2004, but there is...

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Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 10:55am
Mark Allen
Can't We Say Good-Bye to that Hyphen?

We’ve gotten the phrase “God be with you” down to three letters over the years, with bye retaining the b from be and ye, the old plural pronoun. It’s unclear when we took the God out of goodbye, but we’ve been saying bye for at least 300 years.

It’s unclear to me why we persist in saying good-bye with a hyphen in the middle. There is no one-word goodbye in the citations in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it is the first spelling given in the New Oxford American and Oxford Dictionaries online.

Merriam-Webster Unabridged online offers good-bye and good-by as a variant. Merriam-Webster’s newer Advanced...

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