More Blog Posts

Monday, February 24, 2014 - 11:03am
Mark Allen
1
Creative Punctuation Can Be Key to the Narrative

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further... And one fine morning —

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. 

So, how would you edit that? Of course, you had better not edit it. But a copyeditor hungrily wielding a red pen eager for blood might seize on those stops and starts and odd punctuation. And the literary world would be a bit worse off for the loss of that disjointed ending to The Great Gatsby.

Great writing takes us out of the familiar and forces us to look at the...

Read More »
Friday, February 21, 2014 - 9:21pm
Dawn McIlvain Stahl
2
National Grammar Day Doublets: Your Marching Orders

National Grammar Day is 10 short days away, on March 4th, the day of the year that forms a handy imperative sentence. It’s not all commands and demands, though. You’ll have a number of fun options for celebrating. Here are a few you'll want to check out:

Copyediting’s AnaGrammar game will be back -- unscramble the grammar-related anagrams for your chance to win a basic membership (includes a 12-month subscription to Copyediting newsletter). [Update: The contest is complete;...

Read More »
Friday, February 21, 2014 - 10:29am
Mark Allen
0
OED Seeks the Words of the Great War

The assassin’s shot that sparked "the war to end all wars” was fired 100 years ago in June, and four years of fighting gave rise, as wars tend to do, to many words that have stuck with us: shell shock, cushy, tank, trench coat, ack-ack, and more.

The Oxford English Dictionary is marking the centenary of the First World War with an appeal for evidence of words from the era. For more than a year, the OED has issued appeals to the public to help them antedate words, issuing the appeals through its website and social media accounts. It has asked the public for early examples of disco, header, Earl Grey, and others. These sort of appeals go...

Read More »
Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 10:20am
Mark Allen
0
If It's Not Fully Baked, It's Parbaked

We’ve been parboiling our food for centuries despite an odd, early shift in the meaning of the word from fully boil to partly boil. I was recently asked about a new-to-me word: parbake.

A par baked or par-baked or parbaked pie crust or loaf of bread is partially baked and then frozen, to be thawed and fully baked later. I might have used half-baked, but that’s not accurate. Parbaked items are mostly baked, needing a quick visit to the oven to finish them off.

A division exists over whether it should be one word, two words or hyphenated. A search of Google seems to show some preference for a divided form, par bake or par-bake. But a Google Books search suggests an even split. At...

Read More »
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 12:55pm
Adrienne Montgomerie
3
Do Quotes Deserve Clean-up?

“Don’t clean up the quotes.” Ever been given that instruction? Ever thought it unfair?

People don’t speak smoothly. Not most people. Their speech is full of hesitations, corrections, and — if you’re like me — outright flubs. I tend to combine terms in bizarre ways when I can’t decide which to use on the fly: “child labour” results when I mean “child birth or being in labour.” So if you’re quoting my thoughts about giving birth, I’d appreciate your help in not sounding idiotic.

On the other side of the issue, sometimes the person’s exact words are important. I’m not advocating that we edit transcriptions or fix up statements made in legal contexts. I’m talking about cases when that person’s voice, their word choice and syntax, and the rhythm of what they say are important...

Read More »
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 10:06am
Mark Allen
2
A Lack of Overt Praise Isn't a Sign of Failure

Errors highlighted in this space often concern homophones or quirks of grammar that are difficult to keep straight. But some of the worst errors are errors of logic; those give a good copyeditor a real chance to shine.

Abraham Hyatt made at least a couple of logical errors in a blog entry yesterday when he counseled against the hiring of a copyeditor for a newsmagazine website. He said he hired copyeditors for the tech website ReadWrite and that the results were disastrous. He said copyeditors “slowed the publishing process to a screeching near-halt. And, even more importantly: No. One. Cared.”

To counter Hyatt'...

Read More »
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 6:55am
Erin Brenner
1
Weekly News Roundup: Freelancing

Featured Topic: Freelancing

In this week’s News Roundup, we consider whether your freelance business should be an LLC, how to earn what you’re worth, and how to accomplish that big goal.

...Read More »
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 3:14pm
Dawn McIlvain Stahl
0
Featured Job Post: Digital Content Editor for CMAJ, Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) is seeking a digital content editor to join its team in Ottawa, Ontario. CMAJ has been publishing medical research for more than 100 years (the complete archive from 1911 to present is available on PubMed Central). It also publishes analyses, reviews, news, and editorials in biweekly print issues and online, where it receives more than 2 million visitors each year.

The digital content editor will coordinate the publication of articles to CMAJ.ca and will coordinate the development of multimedia content, including commissioning,...

Read More »
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 9:55am
Erin Brenner
0
Tip of the Week: Has the Comma Outlived Its Usefulness?

Linguist and Columbia University professor John McWhorter has been causing a ruckus lately with his comment in a Slate article that you could remove commas from

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:

Curzan suspects that’s because commas have come to be associated with a more proper and polished approach to writing that...

Read More »
Monday, February 17, 2014 - 10:52am
Mark Allen
4
How Long to Keep Your Laptop: Do You Feel Lucky?

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 »
Editing, How to

More from THE OFFICE PROFESSIONAL

Latest Article Comments

I find it ironic that a book about grammar contains "over" instead of "more than" as well as a hyphenated adverb (clearly) in the title! That alone
Anonymous
The Oxford Dictionary of English
That's my typo. Thanks for the heads up!
Dawn McIlvain Stahl
Featured Job Post: Deputy

Latest Forum Discussions