January 12, 2009

Wrong, all wrong!

Posted in books, business, Editing, humor, Video at 10:53 pm by India

The didn’t mention anything about how each character of the book is placed on the page using tweezers.

Also? That guy at the 2:54 mark is really scary.

(Via BoingBoing)

October 1, 2008

Build a copyeditor from scratch!

Posted in advice, books, Editing, Lazyweb, Work at 1:13 am by India

stack of manuscript pages

My stats page tells me that that nice Brian Winters has namechecked me again over at Metafilter. This time, it’s to Baethan, who wants to work in publishing. Her question was,

What sort of courses, experiences, certifications, degrees, etc. should I pursue to tailor me for a career in editorial publishing?

When I return to college in the spring, I’ll be a sophomore. I want to use the next three years to make me into a dream applicant for a job in editorial publishing- proofreading or copy editing. Random House’s example of an entry-level job, “Editorial Assistant“, sounds like what I plan to apply for.

I’d like to work in fiction, preferably fantasy, but I’m not too picky. I also have an interest in art history and some knowledge of music. I really like learning and I know from a high school chemistry class that working my way through technical papers is a lot of fun, so I probably wouldn’t mind a nonfiction editorial job. I don’t think I’d like to work for a magazine. I want to stay the heck away from newspaper jobs. Oh, freelancing is also something I’d rather not do for a living (though I suppose it would be good while I’m in college). I love cubicles.

What sort of resume would make me attractive to a publishing company? I’ll be attending one of Connecticut’s state schools (not UConn, probably) so any ideas on majors and classes would be welcome. (SCSU has Journalism and English as majors, so I’m thinking a combination of the two would suit.) I’ve also been looking for relevant distance learning courses, but haven’t had any luck. Money is not abundant, so I don’t want to end up going to grad school.

Finally, what can I learn at home that will be valuable in an editing job? I know my vocabulary could use improving. My knowledge of grammar is lacking- I never learned grammar, I just got a feel for what’s correct and incorrect through reading. Any good websites or books for this?

In short, I’m looking for all your knowledge regarding copy editing. I believe I’ve read all the pertinent MeFi questions, but please point me to any you feel I should pay particular attention to. (Er, to which I should pay particular attention?) Thanks!

There’s some good advice at MeFi already, including the most obvious—study the Chicago Manual and Strunk & White, get an internship, volunteer—but I’m wondering if y’all have additional suggestions.
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August 13, 2008

The many delights of publishing

Posted in books, Editing, production, Reading, Typesetting at 3:00 pm by India


Bridget points out Rachel Toor’s “A Publishing Primer” in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Excerpts:

French flaps: Extensions of the cover of a paperback that fold elegantly back inside the book and hold extra copy, in imitation of the flaps of the jacket of a hardcover book. Très chic.

. . .

Headbands: Adorable, colorful ribbons at the top and bottom of hardcover books. They are there to delight you.

. . .

Monograph: A scholarly tome on a single subject or limited aspect of a subject. Monographs were once bought primarily by libraries that used to have “standing orders” for all books on certain topics from specific presses. Those days are gone. Those days have been gone for a long time. Remember that when you are revising your dissertation.

. . .

Orphan: This refers to the first line of a paragraph left sitting by itself at the bottom of a page. “Widows” are the final line of a paragraph left alone at the top of a page. It’s the publisher who creates that kind of loneliness; it’s the publisher who should take care of it.

Some of it is specific to academic publishing, and much of it is, sadly, pretty straightforward, but you may find it of use when trying to explain certain phenomena to the uninitiated.

Photo: 2008-01-25 3 Headband by Du-Sa-Ni-Ma; some rights reserved.

August 2, 2008

Speaking of reference books . . .

Posted in Editing, Reading at 5:28 pm by India


I just came across the lapsed bloglet Zimmer’s Words of the Week, which appears to have been abandoned some time in April. The archives are full of good stuff, though, much of it from the wonderful Erin‘s Weird and Wonderful books. Consider, for example,

bouffage [boo-FAHG]
a filling meal. From an Old French word glossed in the OED with a quote from Cotgrave as ‘any meat that (eaten greedily) fills the mouth, and makes the cheeks to swell; cheeke-puffing meat.’ (Weird & Wonderful Word of the Week, 2/21/08)
petrichor [PET-rih-kor]
the pleasant smell that sometimes accompanies rain, especially the first rain after a period of warm dry weather. (Weird & Wonderful Word of the Week, 1/10/08)
semordnilap [sem-ORD-nih-lap]
a word that spells a different word when written backwards (“semordnilap” is “palindromes” spelled backwards). “Drawer” is a semordnilap, because backwards it spells reward. If this makes you uneasy, you might have aibohphobia, ‘fear of palindromes.’ (Weird & Wonderful Word of the Week, 4/10/08)

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August 1, 2008

Yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question

Posted in advice, Editing, humor, Reading at 6:00 pm by India

disgusted cat

Even though their CD-ROM and its tech support suck, I still love the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A:

Q. I’m editing a textbook that references a play. Should it be “Act 3,” “act three,” or “act 3”? A solution to this mystery would be greatly appreciated. I’ve looked at CMOS a hundred times for help with this issue.

A. Wow—a hundred times? If you can suggest how we can make section 8.194 more clear, we’ll try to do better in the next edition: “Words denoting parts of long poems or acts and scenes of plays are usually lowercased, neither italicized nor enclosed in quotation marks . . . act 3, scene 2.”


Q. At the annual meeting of our local PBK chapter, dispute on the pronunciation of “archival” arose: whether the stress falls on the first or the second syllable. Give us your wisdom. I will pass it on in the column I write weekly in a local paper about any subject that pops into my head.

A. As a style guide for writers, CMOS must resist the temptation to weigh in on an issue of pronunciation. We are editors, absorbed in our manuscripts. We can go for days without even speaking. I suggest you consult the linguists who write dictionaries for this purpose. (I’m sorry this won’t give you anything to put in your column, but thanks for your help with mine.)


Q. Is it “cell phone” or “cel phone”? I am working on a crash deadline, and would appreciate a quick response. Thank you so much!

A. Any writer who has deadlines should also have a dictionary. I always swear I’m not going to look up words for people, but it’s like being a mom and picking up socks—something just makes me do it. It’s “cell phone.”

Please buy a dictionary—and pick up your socks.

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May 11, 2008

Patience is bitter, but its fruit extremely sweet.

Posted in books, Editing, production at 2:53 pm by India

heart-shaped cakes

The production editors notes are in grey pencil, the copy editor’s in red, and mine in purple.

It is at this point of the book production that I start to imagine opening the window and jumping out.

Awesome cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum (The! Cake! Bible!) describes one of her least favorite stages in the making of a cookbook: Book Production Phase 6 Copy Editing. Notable for the all-too-rare shout-out to her production team:

I feel doubly blessed to have the support and encouragement of Ava Wilder, head of production at Wiley who cares so much about all these details. And triply blessed to have Deborah Weiss Geline as the most amazing copy editor of all time.

Sing it, sister! Poorly copyedited cookbooks can waste not only trees and time, but also chocolate. [Shudder]

Photo: Valentine’s Cakes at Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana by LexnGer / Lex; some rights reserved.

April 28, 2008

Ha, ha, ha, . . .

Posted in Editing, humor, typography at 2:36 am by India

a row of commas

“This, is an unsettling trend,” columnist William Sa,fire, told reporters. “We’re seeing a collapse of the grammatical rules that have, held, the English language, together for, centuries.”

—“Commas, Turning Up, Everywhere,” The Onion

Photo: a row of commas by moirabot / Moira Clunie; some rights reserved.

April 18, 2008

For anyone else who ever wondered

Posted in books, Editing, Reading, Tools at 9:41 pm by India

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition. Nerd!

So I was trying to find an example of a paragraph-styled bibliography in the Chicago Manual when I had one of those irrelevant thoughts that so often interrupt my work: “I wonder if, using the magic of the internet, I could find out what books these sample pages are from?”

Languagehat: Fun with the Chicago Manual.

(Via Margaret‘s del.icio.usness)

Photo: my favorite corner by limonada / Emilie Eagan; some rights reserved.

March 27, 2008

Now’s your chance

Posted in books, Editing, Work at 1:42 am by India

red pencil

Remember Merrill Perlman, the New York Times copy queen who did a loooooong Q&A last year? Well, she’s just started another one: Talk to the Newsroom: Director of Copy Desks Merrill Perlman. So now’s your chance to have those burning editorial questions finally doused. One of my esteemed former colleagues at St. Martin’s has a question right on the first page:

A Vanishing Breed?

Q. I’m a managing editor at St. Martin’s Press in New York City. We are having more and more trouble finding literate freelance copy editors and proofreaders — people who know the basics of punctuation, spelling, grammar, something of what the English language can or can’t do, perhaps enough knowledge of a major European language to add an accent or make a past participle agree with a noun. Are newspapers experiencing the same problem, and if so, how are you dealing with it?
— Robert Cloud

A. You’re right, Mr. Cloud, it’s harder to find people who know what good copy editors need to know. You can argue that English usage has gone downhill, or you can argue that English is changing, but a better answer, I suspect, is plus ça change. . . .

Note that although Ms. Perlman is, of course, answering many general questions about copy editing, her primary field of expertise is newspaper style, and the Times‘s flavor thereof in particular. Should you have questions relating specifically to U.S. trade book style, you might want to ask the wonderfully salty Chicago Manual answeristas instead.

Photo: colour me red by :: Rick :: / Rick Truter; some rights reserved.

February 22, 2008

Join the Semicolon Appreciation Society; look sharp.

Posted in Editing, humor, Textiles, typography at 1:47 pm by India


India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at http://ink.indiamos.com/2008/02/22/semicolon-swag/. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Semicolon Appreciation Society T-shirts

See? I told you Erin is brilliant. She’s made not only T-shirts but also stickers for the Semicolon Appreciation Society, so you can upgrade the punctuation on signs.

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