Proofreading pitfalls: nine tips to improve your proofreading strategy
The basics of proofreading are easy, right? You read through the text and mark errors to be corrected. Simple. But of course, as any competent proofreader at any level of experience knows, that’s not the whole story. A proofreader has to carry out numerous tasks to do with technical aspects, style and sense – not just spot where a crucial name is misspelled.…Read More
Plagiarism: how to spot it and what to do about it
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
How to help (and hinder) your typesetter
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
Using combo boxes in editorial style sheets
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
Respect and the inner robot in editing
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
Is there such a thing as authorial voice?
‘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
The seven deadly sins of freelance editors
You’re a good editor. You can juggle serial commas and breathe fire at dangling modifiers. Your ninja coding skills can subdue even the most tortuous of manuscripts.
But, however good your editorial skills, they may not be able to save you from losing a client to certain common etiquette pitfalls. I’ve collected seven of these below.…Read More
How much would it cost to edit, proof, index and print Wikipedia? (all of it)
In my project-management capacity, I generally have an encyclopaedia or two on the go at any one time. These usually range from around 500,000 to around 1.5 million words. The largest modern encyclopaedias are upwards of 40 million words (Britannica’s 2013 print edition has 44 million).
These are difficult works to handle, with a whole raft of consistency and data-handling considerations that simply don’t apply to ‘normal’ books.…Read More
Your project manager is not infallible
In a recent post I said that copy-editors and proofreaders should always ask, ask, ask if they find their client’s instructions unclear or aren’t sure what’s wanted. In this impromptu post I’d like to expand on that a little.
When editorial project managers (PMs) write briefs, they try to make them perfect. They really do. They endeavour to make them complete, unambiguous and as concise as possible.…Read More
What makes a professional copy-editor or proofreader?
‘Professionalism’ is one of those rare things: a buzzword with longevity and real value for both the professional and the client who benefits from that professionalism.
But what exactly does it mean to be a professional copy-editor or proofreader? As a project manager, I have worked with the very best to the very worst on the scale of professionalism.…Read More