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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Getting Unstuck from the Editorial Mire

Publishing consultant Iva Cheung has posted her coverage of the panel discussion of project management at the recent national conference of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild. This point from Cheung’s write-up struck me as most important:

Sometimes we all find ourselves so mired that we feel we don’t have time to plan ahead or hire someone to help, but that attitude is self-defeating, said [panelist John] Marsh. “Take the time now, even if you are very pressed, to save time later on.”

Besides applying to project management, Marsh’s advice applies to several other facets of editorial work:

  • We get attached to our slowpoke ways of doing things and tell ourselves that we don’t have time to learn faster ways, such as using macros and wildcard searches, using new-to-us software, and using Microsoft Word templates and styles. We wind up working far too many hours on a project and may lose money because our client won’t pay for time that wasn’t in the project budget.
  • We work ridiculously long hours to finish a huge project, paying penalties of sleep deficits and poor mental and physical health. But if we take just a little time upfront and determine whether we can ask for an extended schedule or hire a subcontractor (or both), we might not end up frazzled or burned out.
  • We mistakenly believe that marketing (1) is all about coming across as self-important, (2) requires a huge time investment and thus is intimidating or not doable, (3) is only for marketing experts, and/or (4) doesn’t really work for editorial professionals. Not surprisingly, not too many new clients will find us when we think like that . . . because they don’t know we exist.
Do make time to find ways out of the mire. Getting unstuck feels great, will keep burnout at bay, and will make your joy in your work evident to your clients—which will bring clients back to you for more projects.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Resources Discussing the Use of Singular "They"

Not being a linguist, I don't usually write posts detailing linguistic matters. This post is a reference list of good reading rounded up by my colleagues rather than a discussion of the use of the singular pronoun they. I am for the widespread use of they; the following items explain the issue much better than I can.

Dear readers, if you have links that you think should be added here, please leave them in comments. Thank you.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Why Does Editing Take So Much Longer Than Reading for Pleasure or Interest?

Dear authors of articles for biomedical journals:

Editing is very unlike reading for pleasure or interest. It involves considering many issues. Here is a partial list of the issues that I address when editing your manuscript:

  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Syntax
  • Good transition from one topic to another
  • Overall topic organization
  • Logic
  • Accessibility:
    • Did the author present enough information so that readers with various levels of expertise—longtime physician, nurse-practitioner, intern, medical student—can understand what is meant, or are there information gaps that should be explicitly addressed?
    • Even though a specific abbreviation is already defined in the text, is it also defined in the caption for the figure where it is used, so that skimming readers don’t have to search the entire article to find out what the figure’s abbreviation means?
  • Consistency (e.g., did the author use the abbreviation throughout, or did she use the full term sometimes and the abbreviation at other times?)
  • Topic, figure, and table cross-references in text
  • Verification of names of drugs, genera and species, and names of actual people, places, and organizations
  • Appropriate citation of references
  • Wordiness (getting rid of it)
  • Jargon (making sure jargon is used appropriately—and that’s if it needs to be used at all)
  • Bias-free writing:
    • Sex
    • Gender identification
    • Parents versus nonparents
    • Emotions (e.g., in research papers, using "killed the rats" instead of the emotion-laden "sacrificed the rats")
    • Additional issues
  • Style:
    • Uppercase versus lowercase
    • Standardizing references to follow AMA style
    • Trademarks versus generic names
    • Additional issues
  • Presentation (What works best for reader comprehension here: straight text, a bulleted list versus a numbered list, a sidebar, a table, a figure?)
  • Meta-issues (e.g., can I add an editorial comment referring readers to another article in the same issue or in a past issue that is about a topic related to the one covered in an article in the current issue?)

It takes time for your editor to address all of these issues and additional issues in helping you make your writing its very best, so please be patient. We editors are on your side.

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