Many times a week I’d been experiencing a mental event like this: I’d be reading an article about a flood in Mexico, which would lead me to thinking about a wedding I once went to in Cancún, which would lead me to thinking about marriage, which would lead to gay marriage, which would lead to the presidential election, which would lead to swing states, which would lead to a fascinatingly terrible country song called “Swing” — and I’d be three songs into a Trace Adkins YouTube marathon before I’d glance back down at the newspaper on the table.
It’s in honoring this movement of mind, this tendency of thoughts to proliferate like yeast, that I find semicolons so useful. Their textbook function — to separate parts of a sentence “that need a more distinct break than a comma can signal, but that are too closely connected to be made into separate sentences” — has come to seem like a dryly beautiful little piece of psychological insight.
Ben Dolnick, Semicolons: A Love Story
The Copy Editor: He has a point, of course, but semicolons are like the crazy uncle in the family.
Antony John, In praise of copyeditors
The Copy Editor: Editing is also a mentoring process, in my view. I have had several great mentors/editors in the past and I’m still learning a lot from my current editor-in-chief at the graf factory where I work. Shout-outs too to Poynter’s Julie Moos and Mallary Tenore for their guidance and patience :)
I told him I saw only one mistake. It wasn’t a split infinitive, it was an unsplit word. He’d made the words “pipe dream” one word, with no space between them. I told him it should be two words, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, which was my authoritative source in such matters.
He told me he didn’t care what Webster’s New World Dictionary said. It was his editorial, and he wanted “pipe dream” to be one word. He said I should delete the space I’d inserted between “pipe” and “dream.”
I never edited anything by Bob Bartley again.
Copyediting is something that’s done after the writers go home, said Merrill Perlman, retired director of copy desks at the New York Times and editing consultant and educator. Copyeditors are geeky and hard to manage. Few people understand what we do. When that happens, companies question our value and cut jobs. Said Perlman, ‘The copyeditor is dead.’
We must stop calling ourselves copyeditors, said Perlman. It’s a word (two if you follow ACES’s style) loaded with too many negative connotations. She suggested that we own a buzzword and become content editors. Copyeditors are expendable. Content editors are vital. It doesn’t matter if we’re coaching those creating the content or actually making the changes. It doesn’t matter if the work will appear in print or somewhere in the digital ether. No one knows what we know. ‘Our jobs are to educate,’ she said. ‘I am a communicator.’
1. Do no harm.
2. Respect the writer.
3. Respect the reader.
4. Don’t be a search-and-replace editor.
5. Look it up.
6. Enforce consistency.
7. He who pays makes the rules.