KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How to Teach Yourself AMA Style

If you need to learn AMA style (AMA Manual of Style, 10th edition), you can check the websites of various editorial professional associations for courses on the topic. The American Medical Writers Association and the Editorial Freelancers Association, for example, periodically offer courses, workshops, and webinars on medical style.

But while you're waiting for courses to open up, you can cobble together your own program for learning AMA style:

  • Buy a hardcover copy of the style manual and a subscription to the online version. There is an online form for ordering an individual subscription. Each day, spend 30 minutes to an hour studying a different portion of the manual until you've worked your way through it.
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  • Follow the advice in the handout "How to Learn a Style Guide in 10 Days" (a PDF) from the 2012 conference of the American Copy Editors Society.
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  • Bookmark the following sections of the manual, both in the hardcover and online:
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    • Proper usage: chapter 11
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    • Abbreviations for clinical, technical, and other common terms: chapter 11, section 14.11
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    • Units of measure: chapter 14, section 14.12
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    • Terminology for various medical specialties: chapter 15
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    • Reference lists: chapter 3
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    • Style for reference-list entries, within chapter 3:
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      • Regarding a journal article: section 3.11 (pages 47–52)
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      • Regarding printed books and chapters within them: section 3.12 (pages 52–56)
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      • Regarding newspaper articles: section 3.13.1 (page 57)
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      • Regarding government or agency bulletins: section 3.13.2 (pages 57–58)
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      • Regarding theses or dissertations: section 3.13.4 (pages 58–59)
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      • Regarding unpublished material: section 3.13.8 (pages 59–61)
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      • Regarding electronic media (such as online journals, websites, online conference proceedings, email list messages): section 3.15 (pages 63–72)
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*Note: After I wrote this post, Copyediting newsletter was redesigned after being sold to new owners. Thus, the links to the audio CDs given above no longer work. That may change as the site redesign continues. I will supply updated links for the CDs when they become available. This post was last updated on July 7, 2016.


Sunday, July 05, 2015

When to Give It Away: Helping Writers Help Others

Sometimes we editors have the pleasure, after helping writers who create educational articles for people in service-related professions, of realizing that we have played a small part in making the world a better place. This is the story of one such case.

In June 2012, my colleague Laura Poole wrote a well-done and thorough guest post on my blog called "Copyediting Drug Names," dealing with trademarks, capitalization, and other usage points.

In March 2015, Sergeant William A. Doherty of the Floral Park Police Department, about 50 miles away from where I live on Long Island, wrote to me after finding Laura's post. He was writing an article for The New York State Chief's Chronicle, the journal of the New York State Chiefs of Police Association, and had questions about whether to use the "registered trademark" symbol (®) with drug names, about whether to include disclaimers stating that by mentioning drug brand names the Floral Park department wasn't necessarily endorsing the particular drugs, and whether and how to mention drug manufacturers' names.

Now, I earn income by editing, so I generally don't give away my services without charge. But I couldn't pass up the chance to help out a police sergeant who was reporting on patrol officers' use of a particular drug to help reverse opioid overdoses among people they encounter in emergency situations. So I answered his questions, and he turned in his article.

Now the article has been published (see this also), and Sergeant Doherty and the journal's editor have given me permission to share his article here.

His article will help other officers save lives. And the advice he obtained from Laura's blog post and from me helped ensure that the drug names used in his article were handled in a standardized way that is recognizable across professional disciplines. Sergeant Doherty, I salute you and your colleagues for the help you give to many citizens!




Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Spellism

Editors are detail people; we pay attention to the smallest parts of every manuscript. Thus, when my people get together in groups, sometimes they'll talk about their pet peeves regarding grammar, clich├ęs, and spelling.

The longer I've been an editor, the less inclined I have become to engage in this airing of gripes. First, life's just too short to focus on irritants. Second, to me it smacks of intolerance for individual differences. The form of this peeving that bothers me the most is what I call "spellism." What is spellism? It's looking down on people who have difficulty spelling correctly.

Being a poor speller does not necessarily indicate low intelligence or a poor education. For example, my husband has always had difficulty spelling. So do our two sons, and so does my daughter from my first marriage. All of them are quite intelligent and have had (or are getting) good educations. Edward O'Moore-Klopf​, my husband, is a gifted cabinetmaker whose custom creations are lovely works of art. Neil​, our oldest son, is a talented apprentice cabinetmaker. Jared, our 13-year-old son, is a highly skilled gamer with an interest in history. He is an avid reader, is a budding leader, and has a wicked sense of humor. Rebecca Sanchez, my daughter, is an empathetic social worker who puts her heart into getting her clients the help that they need within confusing health-care, housing, and financial-aid systems. Should any of them think less of me because I am spatially dyslexic (my self-diagnosis), dislike gaming, or am not cut out to be a social worker?

Spellism doesn't do the reputation of editors any favors. Some people already see editors as hidebound rule followers, comma and hyphen freaks who are out to surgically remove authors' voices and make authors' works into our own because we're failed writers whose work can't find an audience on its own merits. So why engage in spellism? I think it's a tool for setting oneself apart from those "undesirable" others.

But my friend Martha Schueneman, an editor and writer, said today via a Facebook group and a private discussion, quoted here by permission:

This is one of my least favorite topics that comes up among editors. My ex is such a horrible speller that he frequently gets his name wrong. Give me someone who makes me laugh and is good at all the stuff I'm not good at—I'll discuss great books and parse grammar with colleagues, you know? Give me someone who's nice to a hotel maid and a waiter and who makes me laugh, and I'll put up with "between you and I." Even if it takes me a while to figure out what "ornches" [oranges] is on a grocery list.

So yes, if you're an editor, correct the spelling in documents you're paid to edit. But if you want to be seen as a scold and want to lose out on some potentially wonderful relationships, go ahead and make fun of those whose spelling is poor and reject them as unfit to be your friend or mate.




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