Wednesday, February 28, 2007
What Dzanc originally sent my office was a Word attachment to an e-mail message. The Word document is a hybrid of a proper business letter and an informal e-mail message (e-mail has, as you've no doubt heard, affected the levels of formality we now communicate at). When I copyedited the version I prepared for test 1, I tried to keep the author's informal style while correcting grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors; that is, it was not my intention to turn it into a proper business letter.
What I asked you to do in test 2 is slightly different; that is one reason I asked you to use my editing of test 1 as a guide.
Also, I believe I mentioned in class that there is an organization, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, that is already doing what Dzanc proposes to do. Dzanc's letter indicates no awareness of this organization, and this is another tip-off that Steve and Dan are inexperienced. I decided not to bring this up when we talked about the test because I didn't want it to be a factor in how you edited the text.
Hope that clears up a few things; let's talk more about these matters when we meet on Friday.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
As I went over the second exam, I realized I didn't know what a "1 m" or "2 m" meant nor what it stood for and when we use them. Why can't we just use hyphens? Isn't it easier? I lifted these text from last night's Oscars. Are these "1 m" or "2 m" and how did they decide to use them and why?
After five best-director nominations — and five losses, including one for the masterpiece "Raging Bull" — Martin Scorsese got payback big time last night, taking the Oscar for best director and best picture for the mob saga "The Departed" at the Academy Awards.
Al Gore may not have won the presidency in 2000, but in 2007 he won an Oscar for best documentary — the global-warming cautionary statement "An Inconvenient Truth."
Monday, February 26, 2007
Following from that, what are the base pleasures of copy editing? And for Frank, what are the lower pleasures in your job? To help clarify, let me give an example. I used to write press releases for my high school. When I wrote I would sometimes sit and giggle giddily for long stretches as I marveled at my own cleverness. I certainly felt the "higher" aesthetic pleasures of writing, but there were aspect that I enjoyed simply as fun. Everyone who writes writes, in some way, for glory, or at least thats what I read somewhere. What about the people who support writers? What about anybody? I certainly enjoy the copy editing I've done in part because it makes me feel clever. I'll see if that persists after the test.
Do some copyeditors employ "E-Prime" when writing or editing?
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I should have asked this last week, before I handed in the exam, because it has been bothering me.
A question about close-up marks (is there a hyphen; I'm to lazy to look it up right now), when deleting large portions of text and there is a period at the end, should I make ridiculously long close-up hooks or simply rewrite the period?
Friday, February 23, 2007
After the semester is over, I'll try to arrange a dinner or luncheon so that past and present members of my classes can meet each other. Perhaps I can persuade someone well known in local publishing—e.g., John Heckathorn—to be a guest speaker.
Stay tuned to this blog :)
Thursday, February 22, 2007
What do you think Pat? Am I going against what you want us to do, which is practice as much as possible our editing marks?
I feel torn, but I'm gonna go with my gut and with what I would do in a non-test situation.
(Q1) Do we hand in the test with our copyediting marks, the final revision with no copyediting marks, or both?
The first: you are being graded on the way you make and use your copyediting marks.
(Q2) The greeting says, "Hello again editors of literary journals." Are we to assume that this letter is a sent mass e-mail? Are we to treat greetings and salutations like headers, where we capitalize certain words?
Please see the back of the version of test 1 with my editing marks; it has, as I pointed out in class, a follow-up e-mail message from Dzanc Books. You will see by reading it who the intended audience for the text of test 2 is.
Actually, the salutation says, "Hello again, Editors of Literary Journals." I suggested to Davis and Moon Yun that they look online for guidelines for the composition of business letters. One of my main reasons for doing this was to get them to focus on the salutation, which is not in the correct form.
(Q3) Are contractions appropriate in business (or any formal) letters? For example, in the second paragraph, "...how we'll go about getting all of the above plans into motion...."
It depends on what is being asked and whom it is being asked of. A personal letter to you from the White House—or, say, a printed invitation to a formal wedding—would probably not have any contractions. In this case, I would say it's all right to use them.
(Q4) I did not understand what the author meant by "want[ing] to pick the brains of the people who have been out on the front lines." When you do not understand an author's meaning, do you still copyedit the sentence, or do you query the author about it's meaning? (I just deleted that part of the sentence because it sounded informal. Plus, if my assumptions are correct, then he is referring to the questions portion of the e-mail.)
First of all, please remember that possessive pronouns like its do not have apostrophes.
Secondly, yes, he is referring to the questions he wants people to answer. I would suggest you do your best to copyedit the passage and then add a query to the author.
(Q5) In "1. Library Subscriptions," the author writes, "group deal offerings to libraries." I am not sure what that means, would it be alright to say "by offering group deals to libraries." I found it difficult to revise this business letter because it required a bit of knowledge on literary journals, marketing, and subscriptions. I know the author is trying to promote his foundation by showing all the ways he can help literary journals, but I wish I still can't figure out what he's trying to say in some parts.
First of all, please note that alright should be all right.
Secondly, your revision sounds fine to me.
I think that the letter, as filled with personality and goodwill as it is, did not get the response the folks at Dzanc were hoping for because it is, as I said in class, (1) too informal for its intended audience and (2) unclear and imprecise in several places.
You will often be asked to copyedit material that you have no training in or formal knowledge of. That is one of copyediting's greatest challenges: to use your knowledge in a formal and logical way to serve the work and its readers. I was once a copyeditor for a research center at the UH, and I was able, after trying to overcome such fears as yours, to copyedit research reports, journal articles, and conference papers produced by scientists in water research. I don't doubt that you can do the same :)
(Q6) In "2. Event Planning," I copyedited the sentence to, "More and more book festivals are popping up every year; often, we know the organizers." Is the O of often supposed to be capitalized? Also, I wasn't sure what KIND of successes they've seen with these events, so I deleted that sentence.
Ack, no! Please don't ever capitalize the first word after a semicolon.
It's OK to delete the sentence, but I need to ask if my copyediting of that passage did not help you.
(Q7) 3. Readings. What are reading series? Is that just another term for reading nights? What variations is he talking about? Does he mean variations of those reading nights? Also, would you consider, "2 to 4 of their authors" and "three or four journals" as estimates? (I remember you said that you should spell out numbers if they are estimates or not critical to the meaning of the passage. Or would consistency rule, such that I should just spell out all the numbers?)
Reading series are series of readings. For example, the English department has a series of readings that are held at lunchtime and feature the work of poets in Hawai‘i. Because they are continuing and periodic, the readings constitute a series. Reading series can have different formats: one important writer reading his latest work; several writers published by one journal or press reading the work just published; two winners of a recent competition reading their award-winning work; and so forth.
And yes, please spell out the numbers in this case.
(Q8) 5. Advertising. Dzanc Books want to drive for lower rates, and help with layouts. Does that mean they want to market group rates, and help with advertisement layouts?
Yes; again, the hastily composed text will drive many people away—instead of toward—Dzanc.
(Q9) 7. Litblogs. For the first time, the author mentions Dan. Who is Dan? Do I ask the author who Dan (and Steve) is? Or do I just write, "Dan, the founder of Dzanc Books," AND query the author?
The latter is preferable, I think.
(Q10) 8. Anthology. Do they mean that they will be accepting nominations, from participating journals, for works to be put into the anthology?
Yes, from journals who work with them. Note the use of the restrictive clause: it is deliberate, i.e., meant to make it clear to everyone that only a certain group of editors and publishers will appear in the anthologies.
(Q11) Question # 16. Are they asking the renewal rate for their subscribers?
Yes, Dzanc wants to know how many subscribers, of the total number, renew their subscriptions.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Claire, I did answer your second question, so you'll see a comment on your post.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The text describes the use of parentheses for including additional information or enclosing asides (p. 149). On p. 151 em-dashes within a sentence are shown to describe “an abrupt change of thought.” The second em-dash example: “Everyone in the class—students and teachers—appreciated the joke” suggests that commas could be used instead because the students and teachers phrase explained the previous statement. Isn’t this including additional information, so technically couldn’t parentheses also be used?
Is there a standard such as using em-dashes within dialogue sentences and using parentheses within text? Is the choice of using parentheses/em-dashes/commas dictated by the editor’s style guide or is one option more preferable? I guess I'm just a little unsure about how the choice of specific punctuation can change the meaning or emphasis of a sentence.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Also, how much fact-checking are copy editors expected to do? Names, dates, but what else? Where do you draw the line and query the author for more information?
Also, is that how I would use "Google" as a verb? :P
Also, is it appropriate to use acronyms, such as MS, when the acronyms are commonly used in society? Or should we state what the acronym stands for?
When I reread my writing, I often find most of my time is spent revitalizing passages I slacked my way through on the first go. Lazy writing seems like a fairly subjective phenomenon. For example, John Gardener (author of Grendel and a number of books about writing) somewhere states that writing too many sentences starting with -ing verbs is lazy writing. He claims that overuse of -ing comes from a desire to vary sentence structure, but without effort. e.g. Walking down the street, Dave heard the jingle of a Mister Softee ice cream truck.
Some people may have no problem with an abundance of sentences that start with -ing verbs, but I agree that -ing verbs are a little lazy. Do you think the copy editor is, or should, be the person who makes the writer do the extra work that makes their writing good, even if its outside the scope of the copy editors task to correct the lazy writing? How do you break it to a writer that they are being lazy (I think one can tell if an author is being lazy)? What are some other examples of lazy writing? There are likely a few in this passage.
Do I need to write in the “bf” mark in the margin for boldface, or would a wavy line suffice? Also Pat used the “tr” mark for transposing (on the second page of the first test), but is the mark necessary?
Do I have a choice to include the serial comma or omit it? I think this decision depends on which style manual I use, but, since I have no particular style manual this time, can I choose to retain or omit the serial comma if I stay consistent?
If I choose to retain the serial comma, would I have to place the comma every time I use the word “and”? For instance, would I need a comma in a simple phrase like, “She is nice and smart”? Or should the sentence be, “She is nice, and smart”?
Is it assumed that the receivers of this e-mail message know who Dan and Steve are? It seems informal to mention such names unless the parties involved are aware of who they are.
What is the copyediting mark for making an e-mail address hyperlinked?
Should we specifically write “Au:…” when we query the author to distinguish the query from the instructions for the typesetter?
Is “litblog coop” an organization? Should the name be capitalized?
Pat mentioned in class that putting an exclamation mark after an understood statement, such as “library subscriptions have close to 100% renewal rate,” indicates a lack of professionalism. Should we advice the author to refrain from using the mark?
I’m afraid this question might repeat what Davis and Moon Yun had already asked, but are we penalized every time we make the same marking as Pat had done in the first test? Should we come up with our own markings even when we feel that Pat’s markings seem to be doing exactly what we want? Of course, I’m not saying that we should just copy everything…
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Personally, I have a huge fear about accidental/unintentional plagiarism. I think that's why I have such a strong interest in copyediting in the first place. It's very hard to plagiarize sentence corrections, fixes to grammar, and spelling suggestions. However at this point in time I am panicking just a little because I realize it may be possible to plagiarize copyediting marks too!
I did the test today (1st run) and I'm boggled by the oversimplification of the test. I just used the last test as a guide (per your suggestion) and I basically followed your markings. That cannot be what we're assigned to do. Am I missing something?
Friday, February 16, 2007
I left early, for I felt sick.
They hired him, for his application was superior to the other applicants.
I ask this because I used to employ this technique a lot when I was younger. I stopped for three reasons: it did not see like a commonly used; it seemed like a cheap transition; it stilted the prose in some cases. I am wondering what copy editors or editors think about this construction?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
As I mentioned in my previous question, I'm the editor for an online movie website called "Ain't It Cool News." I have a very good writer who writes with a lot of flair. The problem is she doesn't have formal education in journalism so she lacks the style and the standard format. I noticed that when she submits her articles. I don't want to ruin her natural flair but do you think I should come up with suggestions to make her a better, yet formal, writer?
Monday, February 12, 2007
I'm interested in the general rule here, not anything exhaustive. Although interesting or entertaining exceptions are welcome.
Original: Children have to learn to ask nicely instead of going around making demands.
Answer: Children have to learn to ask nicely instead of demanding.
Is there a better way to copyedit that sentence? For example, the sentence could have read: Children have to learn to ask nicely instead of make demands."
Also, what is the difference between pg., pp. and p. when indicating page(s)?
Although I study translation, I believe that no translated work can surpass the original, especially when the languages involved are not closely connected. I think there is a merit in reading Shakespeare in English or Lady Murasaki in Japanese. The best a translator can do is to imagine, “How would the author say this if he/she knew English/Japanese?”
A translator can spend hours coming up with a good translation for a very short phrase or even a word. Because of all the efforts, some translators can get personal when someone criticizes their work. I can just imagine the fury of a translator when a copyeditor who doesn’t know the source language criticizes and alters the translation. But such an emotional reaction indicates a lack of professionalism.
Does a copyeditor work with a different frame of mind when working with a translated piece? Does a copyeditor take into consideration the fact that the piece he/she is dealing with came from another language through a translator?
I got really excited when several other people admitted enjoying such a taboo thing like grammar trees, because secretly, I like them too. I got to thinking, and I realized that the reason I like grammar trees comes from the same (obsessive?) mechanism in my brain that makes me want to find the optimal solution to a problem. Both copyediting and engineering are problem solving jobs, where paying close attention to detail is crucial. It seems funny that with as many hours as an engineer will spend in front of an Excel spreadsheet, how much he/she/e might not want to spend making sure their report is well written. I suppose it’s just the type of problems we like to tackle. I see a potential bridge here…
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
He said I had to meet him later
As opposed to
He said that I had to meet him later.
(Better examples abound, but I think [that] you get the idea)
I was always under the impression [that] the second example was correct, or at least, more formal. My Latin professor always obliged us to use that in our translations, even though colloquial usage said otherwise.
Is this variability a question of style--standard versus formal--or is the second typology obsolete?
I ask because I just read Sage Takehiro's column in the BIW, in which she systematically destroys (but is still nice) to a reader's response of her response to Maui Fever; yes, the show on MTV. Anyway, the article was da bomb, but I was thinking, ho, that would be one hard thing to copyedit!
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
When I go to the small Korean restaurants or dim sum places, I get a chuckle from reading their menus sometimes. They almost get it but not quite right since English is not their first language. I wanted to offer my services and help them correct their menu but would that be impolite and patronizing? What do you think of "Headlines with Jay Leno" where he makes fun of such cases? Fear of being laughed at...is that where people turn away from becoming writers?
This class will come in handy because I'm also the editor of an influential movie website called "Ain't It Cool" news. One of my writers, though a good reporter, is in need of a good editor. He makes so many mistakes, whether it's grammer, spelling, sentence construnction. You name it; he does it. He's hyper sensitive so I can't complain to his face. Or can I? Is there a diplomatic way of saying, "Hey, you need to look over your copy." Or should I stay silent and use the new skills to edit his text to the best of my abilities?
Grammar haters had better not hold their breath waiting for the day when people stop using “whom” altogether. It is only slightly more imminent than the day people start using it correctly.
I am not impressed by the argument that “whom” does not make a distinction necessary for understanding. The same is true for much more basic rules, such as subject-verb agreement. Few grammatical errors significantly impede understanding, however much they may erode respect.
The “who”-“whom” error is probably most likely in questions (“Who do you love?” “Who can I turn to when nobody needs me?”) and least likely when the pronoun is the object of a preposition. Constructions like “one of whom” are still widely used. I almost never see “one of who.” The tendency to postpone prepositions increases the likelihood of error. Many people whose ears would twitch at “the woman with who I fell in love” would admit “the woman who I fell in love with” without a second thought, their Inner Grammatical Watchdog unstirred.
The Inner Grammatical Watchdog, although widely domesticated, is not extinct. Although the wolf has turned poodle even in many professional writers, in editors like my dear friend Pat, the dominant primordial beast remains alive and snarling. Set one careless foot in her domain, and she’ll be on your case.
Monday, February 5, 2007
I once did a "team translation" (English to Japanese), where each team member was responsible for translating a certain portion of a lengthy manuscript. The difficulty was that the final translation had to read like a work of a single person, and my teammates and I had to make sure that we used the same translations for certain terminologies.
Is there such a thing as a "team copyediting"? If there is, what precautions would the involved copyeditors have to take?
Sunday, February 4, 2007
present in each of the independent clauses.
Example: Therefore, I thought he said that his sister, Cindy, lives in Alaska; but it turned out that, in fact, she lives in Hawaii.
But then, someone else told me that a punctuation is not needed at all if two clauses joined by the conjunction already have commas within themselves.
Example: Therefore, I thought he said that his sister, Cindy, lives in Alaska but it turned out that, in fact, she lives in Hawaii.
Or should a comma be used?
Example: Therefore, I thought he said that his sister, Cindy, lives in Alaska, but it turned out that, in fact, she lives in Hawaii.
Is there such a thing as too many commas in a sentence?
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Friday, February 2, 2007
"Their" is a plural pronoun; but why can't "their" be a singular pronoun, if used consistently in written languagel? I know there are a lot of problems in gender studies with identity; and the use of "their" is ambiguous, in a wonderful way; it allows for a dual or third gender.
Don't you think "their" can be used as single pronoun? Can't the English language make an exception? Really, it's not like we don't make a milliion already. :-)
I don't know. Just a thought.