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a great deal of modern American texts and you would probably suffer so little loss of clarity that there could even be a case made for not using commas at all.
In the same article Anne Curzan, language historian and University of Michigan English professor, notes the decreased use of commas in casual writing. According to the article:
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Curzan suspects that’s because commas have come to be associated with a more proper and polished approach to writing that...
An Internet-connected computer running Microsoft Word is the basic tool of a freelance copyeditor. You can only get so far with a clipboard, red pen, and winning smile. When the computer goes down, the work ceases and billable hours vanish.
This was a topic of discussion last week on the Copyediting-L email list: At what point does a duct-taped computer need to be relegated to the closet so work can proceed on something shiny and new? Answers varied; one person said she was at seven years and still going with minor repairs.
For a serious freelancer, tools are essential. I reckon to replace my computer every...Read More »
We’ve had a little word fun with Valentine’s Day before. We unscientifically proved that the language of love is 70 percent French (or 100 percent Nahuatl), and we took you from a sweet treat to a life commitment in a five-step reflections game. Today, with snow (again!) blanketing much of the U.S., we slow it down and warm it up with a doublets game that goes from warm embrace to warm attachment in eight steps.
To solve the doublets puzzle, use the first clue to solve the first four-letter word. For the remaining words (also four letters each), find the word that fits the clue and can be created by changing...Read More »
It didn’t exactly go viral, but BuzzFeed’s new style guide has generated a lot of chatter. It says something that a website that today features the Which '90s Dreamboat Is Your Valentine? quiz is seen as a legitimate source for writing-related guidance.
But, of course, there are many somewhat serious journalists behind BuzzFeed who care about language. The introduction to the...Read More »
Cassie Armstrong is a recovering English teacher who has been freelance editing for seven years and is the sole proprietor of MorningStar Editing, where her current concentration is craft books and cookbooks. She also copyedits fiction and other nonfiction, does manuscript evaluations, and is learning about developmental editing.
What path have you taken to get where you are today?
Before I decided to try my hand at freelancing, I was a college English instructor. I also had some experience as a business writer and as a researcher. It was hard to just walk away to take care of my toddler grandson. Editing gave me a...Read More »
If we lived in medieval times, we word lovers might participate in an amusement called Ragman, the key component of which was the Ragman Roll. A roll of parchment contained verses that were connected to strings that players would choose at random. The connected verse was said to say something about the character of the chooser.
Some sources say the roll was named after one of the characters in the verses, Ragemon le Bon. Ragman also was an early name for the Devil.
Students of Scottish history are familiar with the Ragman Roll, a name applied to the charter of 1291 in which Scottish nobles accepted the primacy of King Edward I. It wasn’t called the Ragman Roll until 500 years later, but ...Read More »
Eyes that change colour, streams that flow uphill, and piquing behind curtains are just some of the flubs editors of romance titles must look for.
I’m not going to say that Canadians are the most romantic people on the planet, but with Harlequin alone publishing 120 romance titles every month, I’ll venture to say that we know a couple things about editing romances. Here are six top tips shared by our experts.
Words that shock, purple-prose, and emotional body parts are just some of the problems Bonnie Staring watches for. “A character may give someone a flirtatious glance, but having flirtatious eyebrows or eyelashes...Read More »
I’m often tripped up by the meanings of jibe and gibe, and I suspect I’ll always have to check the dictionary. I do remember, though, that jive has nothing to do with things meshing together.
Jive is a form of dancing that goes along with swing music or early rock and roll. It’s also “glib, deceptive, or foolish talk,” according to Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary online. To say things don’t jibe means they don’t fit together. So jive and jibe can both be related to whether things are true, but in opposite ways: talking jive doesn’t jibe with the truth.
Still, things seem to be commonly not jiving. A...Read More »
Featured Topic: Editorial Methods
This week’s News Roundup includes replacing worn-out holiday words, clarifying a confusables pair, and writing SEO-friendly headlines.
- “Kiss and Edit: It’s All About Word Choice This Valentine’s Day”: Help your authors avoid clichés with this word list. (ACES Blog)
- “Bimonthly or Semimonthly / Semi-Monthly? Biweekly or Semiweekly / Semi-Weekly?”: The best advice for dealing with these confusables. (LibroEditing)
- “The Secrets of Great Headline Writing”: The Web has changed the rules of headline writing. Catch up. (The Guardian...
Here’s a question for all the business copyeditors in the room:
When your text deals with a business-to-business (B2B) relationship, who is the customer: the company that pays the bills, the individual who is the main contact point, or the team that ends up working on the project?
I see this problem a lot in business copy. Even the author isn’t always sure who customer (or client or something similar) refers to, and the result is a muddle of pronouns for one word. The customer is an it in one sentence and a they in the next.
Look at these sentences, which have been adapted from the same manuscript:
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We developed a marketing plan that included TV, radio, and print to ensure that the customer...