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By education and career choice, I am a moderate prescriptivist (with descriptivist sympathies).* In my personal communication, I carefully “couldn’t care less” and I enjoy the game of keeping fewer and less in distinct count and non-count realms. In my professional life, I edit or query any nonstandard usage. It’s part of what my clients pay me to do. So I was surprised to realize that I had, for the first time, used literally to describe something that wasn’t literal -- and that I was okay with it.
I used the non-literal meaning of literally in a comment to a writer this week while I was editing. And I don't regret it. Please finish reading before you come to revoke my professional-editor...Read More »
Today’s News Roundup continues the conversation on ethics in editing, advises on approaches to resolving conflicts, and shares thoughts on what makes a great editor.
- “The Business of Editing: An Editorial Code of Professional Responsibility”: A code of professional responsibility not only raises the status of our profession but it also gives editors guidance on how to resolve ethical conflicts. (An American Editor)
- “Hot vs Cold: A Temperature-Based Approach to Conflict Resolution”: Define the type of conflict you’re facing and you’ll know better how to resolve it. (99U)
- “What Makes a Great...
Has the humidex got you reaching for a pop, dockside at the camp? You might be Canadian. That’s right, according to Only in Canada, You Say, these are uniquely Canadian terms. Katherine Barber, “Canada’s word lady,” wrote that book. She used to supervise development of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, when it was still under production.
Knowing local terminology matters when you are editing for any audience, whether they are local or international. On the one hand, you may not want to trip up foreign readers. On the other hand, there’s no need to change terms that readers will understand, or that add the right tone to a...Read More »
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is seeking an editor to join its education products team and manage Critical Decisions in Emergency Medicine. ACEP represents more than 30,000 emergency doctors, residents, and students, providing professional development, advocacy, and continuing education. ACEP is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, and Critical Decisions in Emergency Medicine is its official, monthly CME publication.
The editor will manage the editorial board and the publication of Critical Decisions in Emergency Medicine and other education products. Tasks will include leading annual...Read More »
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.
Copyeditors are trained to focus on the details: Is that comma necessary here? Does that word mean what you think it means? We’re so used to looking at the details that we sometimes...Read More »
Today’s News Roundup teaches you how to fix dangling modifiers, demonstrates proper usage of got, and discovers what we don’t know about usage guides.
- “Having Started This Post, An Idea Struck Me”: Those dangling modifiers hurt! How to spot them and how to fix them. (Madam Grammar)
- “Have Got”: It’s terrible! It’s horrible! It’s … correct? (Grammar Underground)
- “What Makes a Usage Guide? (Part 2)”: Do we know what a usage guide is for? (Bridging the Unbridgeable)
Is that a dash or a minus sign? (– or −) A superscript o or a true degree symbol? (o or °) Can you tell? Sometimes the font is revealing because the characters can look drastically different; usually they do not. (You may see a clear difference here, depending on your browser's font settings.) Sometimes, it matters which character is being used.
Word's "reveal formatting" function will tell you what font the character is in and about the line formatting, but not much else (see the screen shot below). In this post, I present a couple of macros that will tell you what a character is: one reveals the ASCII code and the other reveals the Unicode.
To use the macros, copy the code (from “sub” to “end sub”) and paste it into the VBA in Word. Then,...Read More »
Developed by renowned word-player and Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, doublets are a word pair linked by a chain of words formed by changing only one letter at a time. For Carroll, the object was to get from the first word to the last using the shortest possible chain of words in between. Carroll’s 1879 Doublets: A Word-Puzzle is available as a free Google eBook.
Our doublets don’t always strive for the shortest chain, but today’s theme motivated me to be expeditious. With summer-vacation season in full swing, our doublets game takes us from steady hard work to recreation in just five short steps.
To solve the doublets puzzle, use the first clue to solve the first four-letter word. For the...Read More »
It’s unlikely that copyeditors and and other word lovers escaped the release this week of Word Crimes, a grammar lesson in the form of a comedy song and video by “Weird Al” Yankovic. It showed up dozens of times in my Twitter stream. I was tagged on Facebook, got links through email discussion groups and read about it on LinkedIn. Several people suggested Weird Al ought to be invited to deliver the keynote address at an American Copy Editors Society conference.
The song is catchy parody of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines with much better lyrics and video. Still, Word Crimes leaves me and other copyeditors a bit uncomfortable. It’s too easy...Read More »