How To Be a Good Copyeditor

There was a time when the title “Editor,” at least in terms of writing, had to be further clarified. Substantive Editor? Copyeditor? Proofreader? These were the days when editing killed a lot of trees and men stuck press credential in their hats.

Ok, perhaps not that long ago, but it does seem that way sometimes. With the advent of online content management, blog accessibility, and digital publishing, “editing” can be a catchall term covering an amalgam of skills. As a professional writer hiring an editor, you need to clarify what sort of expertise you’re getting. This has consequences for the student writer as well. If you’re faced with writing and revising a term paper, you’re going to want to approach revision as though you are wearing multiple hats, rather than covering all your editing bases in one pass.

I use the following graphic with my composition students. It’s a good representation of how the editing process can be segmented for maximum effectiveness.

Editing as a fluid process
Editing as a fluid process

There are four basic phases:

  1. Revision
  2. Substantive Editing
  3. Copyediting
  4. Proofreading

I’ll cover Revision and Substantive Editing in my next post, so let’s look at Copyediting and Proofreading for now. While the temptation may be great to do both in one pass, the distinction is necessary, especially if you operate under the “Work Smarter, Not Harder” mantra. Think of copyediting as clarifying the voice of your paper–how the sections and paragraphs come together to represent your ideas. A copyeditor wants to make sure the paper’s readability is maximized. Focus on clarity and consistency. Proofreading, on the other hand, about clarifying the look of your paper–typos, grammar mistakes, basic stuff. That should come as the absolute last step, when you know your content and flow are solid, and you just need to put that final inspection to be sure you don’t do something stupid, e.g. confuse there, their, and they’re.

 

How APA and MLA are Different, Part 3

Finishing the three-part series on APA and MLA differences, here are some key examples of references and citations among both the styles.

APA (“References”)
Book: Graber, D.A. (2002). Mass media & American politics. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Journal: Donaldson, S. (1995). Protecting the troops from Hemingway: an episode in censorship. The Hemingway Review, 15, 87-93.
Website: Park, A. (2008, May 21). How safe are vaccines? Time. Retrieved from http://www.time.com.

Sample Citations
Graber (2002) suggests that “media are most influential in areas in which the audience knows least” (p. 210).
(Adams, 1979) or (Adams, 1979, p. 42)
(Lennon & McCartney, 1968) or (Lennon & McCartney, 1968, p. 999)
(Hexum, Martinez, & Sexton, 1994) or (Hexum, Martinez, & Sexton, 1994, p. 123)

MLA (“Works Cited”)
Book: Graber, Doris A. Mass Media & American Politics. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2002. Print.
Journal: Donaldson, Scott. “Protecting the Troops from Hemingway: An Episode in Censorship.” The Hemingway Review 15 (1995): 87-93.
Website: Park, Alice. “How Safe Are Vaccines?” Time. Time Magazine, 21 May 2008. Web. 18 March 2011.

Sample Citations
Doris Graber suggests that “media are most influential in areas in which the audience knows least” (210).
(Adams 42)
(Lennon and McCartney 999)
(Hexum, Martinez, and Sexton 123)

How APA and MLA are Different, Part 1

Back in high school, I was told that MLA formatting was the only way to do a research paper. Chalk this up to my research papers all being in English classes, and as MLA is the preferred formatting for students of the humanities, my English instructors had this style hammered into their brains.

Fast forward to college and my first paper due in a social sciences class. Mind blown. There’s another format to use? What is this “APA” you speak of? Turns out, most every field or discipline has a preferred style format. APA and MLA are the major players, but there are others–such as Chicago (Turabian), commonly used for history.

As most papers are done in either the humanities or social sciences, APA and MLA are the styles that students most identify. Differentiating between the two can be difficult; confusing one for the other can be incredibly easy. So, at a glance, how do they actually differ?

  1. References vs. Works Cited.
    1. The list of references at the end of the paper is known as References in APA, and Works Cited in MLA. It is also possible to have a separate section in the MLA list of Works Consulted, so that you may keep your list of actual cited references concise.
    2. The author is as “Last Name, First Initial” in APA format, and “Last Name, First Name” in APA.
  2. Parenthetical Citations.
    1. If the author’s name is mentioned in the sentence, the date (and page number if quotations are used) is written in parentheses immediately after the name in APA format. In MLA format, the page number comes at the end of the sentence (no date).
    2. If the author’s name is not mentioned in the sentence, follow the same rules as above, but add the author name.
  3. Block Quotes. In APA formatting, quotes of 40 words or more are indented 1 tab. In MLA formatting, quotes of more than 4 lines are blocked 2 indents.

Examples:

MLA:

(Klaphake 54)

Klaphake, Elizabeth. My Life as an English Professor. Bellevue, Nebraska: Bellevue University Press. 1999.

APA:

(Klaphake, 1999, p. 54)

Klaphake, E. (1999). My life as an English professor. Bellevue, Nebraska: Bellevue University Press.

Clarifying e.g. and i.e.

These two are easily confused. I had four semesters of Latin in college and I still have to remind myself of correct usage. Although both phrases are originally Latin, they are part of the English language, and thus do not require italicizing like we so often do with foreign words or phrases.

In Latin, i.e. stands for id est, while e.g. stands for exempli gratia. The former means “in other words,” while the latter means “for example.”

I see the two confused–most often i.e. going in place of e.g. erroneously. Only one of the two phrases actually contains the root for “example.” If you’re fishing for the right phrase to use in order to provide an example, e.g. is the way to go.

Additional references:

http://grammarist.com/usage/ie-eg/

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-difference-between-eg-and-ie/

Periods and Quotation Marks

dr-evil-bunny-quotes

Ah, the quotation mark. It takes many forms…in the air, overused, underused, absent, and just plain wrong. Some use it for “emphasis.” (Hint: don’t.) Some put quotation marks common phrases in signs or marketing collateral. The short answer on all this is, of course, that quotation marks are marks for notating quotations. Not for emphasis. We might use them to set off a phrase someone said or their misuse of a phrase (such as a liar’s version of the “truth,” for example). But otherwise, they only work for quotes.

But within that, how are they treated? In American English, double quotations go around an actual quote. Punctuation (periods, commas, dashes, etc) go inside. It’s different in British English, but that’s beyond the point. When in doubt, consult this APA table.

There is an argument for logical punctuation, but as an old English major having two major publication styles chiseled into my head, this sort of thing makes my skin crawl.

 

 

 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-b-bradshaw/commas-periods-and-quotat_b_3625244.html

Book Design in Word or InDesign?

in-d-vs-word

I get a lot of manuscripts in Microsoft Word. Fair enough, as Word’s Track Changes feature is the gold standard for the editorial process. However, once we move from editing to actual typesetting and book layout, Word is horrible. It essentially treats everything (and I mean everything) like a continuous line of text. Graphics placement is a bear, columns and tables are cumbersome, and dependent files are unreliable.

Enter Adobe InDesign (ID). Back in my yearbook days, this was Aldus PageMaker. Adobe bought the company and we now have the ghost of PageMaker present in InDesign. I love the program. It’s much easier to do book layout in an application that treats everything spatially as ID does. No, there aren’t many editorial capabilities for copy in ID, but we’re talking layout here.

Here are some of my favorite comparative reviews from over the years:

Why use InDesign instead of MS Word?

Book Design: MS Word vs. Adobe InDesign

Document Design: Word or InDesign?

 

Bulleted Lists and Seriation

Commas Save Lives

I often run across numbered lists, bulleted lists, and in-sentence lists, known either as seriation or enumeration, depending on what style one uses. The three major style guides (APA, Chicago, MLA) are very clear on how to do these.

APA resources:

APA Style Blog: Lists (a 6-part series including both lists and seriation within a sentence)

Purdue OWL: APA Lists

For those disciplines that require Chicago or Turabian, as well as non-academic manuscripts:

Middlebury College: Vertical Lists (Chicago style)

MLA format does not recommend the use of vertical lists; rather, seriation by comma is suggested.