‘Don’t make trouble’ is an edict that we often hear as children. Making trouble means being difficult. It raises unnecessary issues. It causes aggravation. It wastes time and thereby costs money.
The idea of making trouble also goes against a core principle that proofreaders and copyeditors learn early on: if something’s good enough, don’t change it (sometimes phrased as ‘leave well enough alone’).…Read More
On the rim of the editorial world, out beyond the well-travelled shipping lanes of non-fiction, the jostling flotillas of novels and the bustling reefs of academia, is a fabled area of publishing rarely glimpsed by the everyday reader or writer. Here dwell academic encyclopedias, catalogues and other major reference works (often called MRWs) – leviathans that dwarf much of the rest of the publishing world in their scope, cost, timescale, demandingness and sheer ambition.…Read More
For an editorial project to meet its goals, multiple people (sometimes many) need to work together, but potentially without ever actually communicating with each other. This requires each person to have a clear understanding of their role in the process and the ripples (good or bad) they can create for others in the editorial team.
Part I of this article gave some suggestions on how the author, developmental editor and project manager can contribute to each other’s work and the work of people later on in the process.…Read More
It’s not uncommon to hear editors alluding to what they do as a kind of midwifery. Editors (for which read ‘copyeditors’ and ‘proofreaders’ throughout) help clients to ‘birth’ books – to bring them into the world in the healthiest and best-prepared state they can, with the minimum possible fuss, mess and pain. They support clients (parents), listening carefully to their desires for their book (birth plan) and doing their utmost to make those desires a reality.…Read More
In the editorial world, it’s generally thought that the person who copy-edited a text shouldn’t also be the person to proofread it.
This is a sound rule to follow wherever possible: a proofreader is often referred to as a ‘fresh pair of eyes’, and this freshness can be invaluable. In the same way that an author can become blind to the errors in their own work through overfamiliarity, a copy-editor tends to lose that ‘edge’ that comes with seeing a text anew.…Read More
Whether it’s done accidentally, unthinkingly or with malice aforethought, plagiarism is a perennial problem in publishing. Sometimes it might result from an author’s genuine ignorance of the rules and conventions surrounding the reproduction of others’ work; sometimes it might be a shortcut (for example, if an author is commissioned to write in a language other than their own and struggles to formulate their own words); and sometimes it is simply the deliberate theft of another author’s words.…Read More
Copy-editors and proofreaders rarely get any direct contact with or feedback from typesetters. As such, we can never quite be sure whether our markup and working practices are helpful and sufficient or whether we’re causing confusion and wasted time. Developments in technology – for example, the use of styles in Word and the use of Acrobat’s built-in markup tools – have led to further options and possibilities, with the result that there is no single ‘right’ way of marking up text.…Read More
I am a huge advocate of comprehensive and well-organised editorial style sheets. When copy-editing and proofreading, they help me to clearly summarise the style decisions I’ve made and communicate them to my client. And, in my project management work, they are indispensable tools for corralling copy-editors on multi-editor projects and for keeping styles consistent throughout copy-editing, typesetting, proofreading, collating and indexing.…Read More
I recently edited an academic book on Nazi Germany and, as is standard copy-editing practice, checked the spelling and diacritics of all proper nouns and non-English words: the Polish ‘L’ character with a stroke; the triple-consonant ‘sch’ in Mischlinge; the umlaut in Röhm. I’ve found that, with experience, copy-editing functions like this have become almost automatic.…Read More
‘Don’t intrude on the author’s voice’ is one of the first things every new proofreader or copy-editor is told. This is both a very helpful and an utterly useless piece of advice. It is helpful because it is absolutely true, but it is useless because it rarely seems to be defined just what on earth authorial voice is.…Read More