One of the primal joys in life is to do good work. When the suit fits, the accounts balance, or the pie crust is flakey, someone takes pride in it.
In editing, it feels good to make corrections, tidy things up, and serve the reader. It feels good to put knowledge into practice. And—admit it—it feels good to spot an error! . . . Problems arise when
Some lessons are harder to learn than others. Unfortunately for new copyeditors, sometimes the only way to recognize bad habits is to get slammed a few times by writers pushing back or by supervisors writing stet all over the copy. So let me save you some grief and humiliation! Here are three bad habits I identified the hard way as a young editor.
We’ve all read those bossy directives from advice mongers: “Do rock a ripped T with a bright floral skirt.” “Don’t chew gum during an interview.” “Do practice blending eyeshadow with your brush.” “Don’t yank electrical cords from the wall.” Aside from being either fatuous and trendy or obvious and unhelpful, such lists actually pose some editorial dangers.
Recently a reader wrote to us questioning some of the alphabetizing recommendations in The Chicago Manual of Style . . .
For years, it seems, it’s been impossible to find a language-related post or article online without a stickler making trouble in the comments section. Even on political, social, and retail sites, outraged commenters love to point out a a missplaced apostrophe as a way to challenge the
Shortcuts in editing may be frowned upon, but when it comes to word processing, editing shortcuts are not only allowed, they’re essential. If you’re still fumbling around in the pull-down menus, fighting with features that won’t leave you alone, and wasting time on tasks that could
Attending a conference is a major expense. In addition to travel and hotel costs, registration is sometimes hundreds of dollars, and all that dining out and schmoozing at the bar adds up as well. If you’re just starting out, you’re probably watching your budget. But there are some ways to keep costs down, and the benefits might just make it worth your while.
Anyone who has something to sell faces a dilemma when it comes to deciding on a price: ask too much and no one will buy; ask too little and you won’t earn enough money. In freelance editing, the second option carries an added danger: ask too little and you could be swamped with competing deadlines.
In my view, the most regrettable copyediting disasters come in the form of errors introduced by the editor. Letting a writer’s original mistake survive is certainly cause for regret, but nothing’s worse than knowing that the work was correct until you messed it up!
The most mind-numbing job I ever had was in an insurance company filing papers—carts full of policies to put in numerical order, hour after hour, 1064952, 2586027, 1943902, 1064951. The only thing that kept me awake was the occasional paper cut. I’m sure they’re still looking for some of the policies I misfiled in my stupor.
Every writer or editor is faced with a mindless task now and then: alphabetizing, renumbering, abbreviating . . .