My newest book, five-plus years in coming, based on this blog, is now a reality. It’s available on Amazon in paperback (e-book to come).
Here are some details:
Speakers and writers of American English don’t have to know how to diagram sentences or write grammatically perfect sentences at all times, but we should aim for a solid grasp of the basics of good usage, syntax, and punctuation—what teachers and copyeditors call the “mechanics” of English, or simply “Standard Written English.” Our goal should be to communicate in writing more clearly, concisely, coherently, and correctly.
Liberally lacing Whatever Happened to English? with practical grammar, usage, and punctuation tips and examples, often with a humorous edge, the author includes nearly one hundred essays of varying lengths—from a single paragraph to several pages. Approximately half of these essays originally appeared in The Dean’s English blog. The other half are brand new. The book is organized into these chapters:
Whatever Happened to English?
A Grammar Miscellany
Fun with Words
A Dean’s English Potpourri
English at the Holidays
Whatever Happened to English? is for writers as young as middle school and as old as Methuselah.
As a copyeditor, a common grammar issue I find in a piece of writing (besides punctuation problems) is subject-verb agreement difficulties.
In simplest terms, in any sentence, verbs must agree with their nouns in number, whether singular or plural. Look for the subject of the sentence and don’t be distracted by intervening prepositional phrases, the may be the most common cause of subject-verb agreement problems. Consider the following example:
“The box of chocolates (has/have) fallen on the floor.” The correct verb is has, although many writers would mistakenly write have. How can you be sure? Trust your ear. Remove the prepositional phrase (of chocolates) and hear what makes sense: “The box [singular subject] has fallen [singular verb] on the floor.”
Another example: “The main argument of the defense attorneys (is/are) that the defendant wasn’t anywhere near the scene of the crime that day.” Remove the prepositional phrase (of the defense attorneys) and what remains? “The main argument [singular subject] is [singular verb] that the defendant wasn’t anywhere near the scene of the crime that day.”
I’ve been following Liz Dexter’s blog for a while and often appreciate her helpful posts. As a copyeditor who uses style sheets with every project, I’m taking her up on her offer to reblog this informative piece. (Thank you, Liz!)
If you work with a proofreader or editor on any project, either for a publisher or working independently or as a student, you might receive a Style Sheet from them with your corrected work. This article explains what a style sheet is, the purpose of a style sheet, and what might be included on it. I’ve also written this article to send to my clients so they understand what the document I’ve sent them is – so if you’re one of my clients, hello!
To make this article easier to read, I will refer to the person who has worked on your document as your “editor” – although I might refer to proofreaders in some places, too.
If you’re an editor or proofreader who wants to find out more about style sheets, I’ve written an article just for you, too.
Recommended for church leaders and interested believers.
I’m grateful for the opportunity the past few years to copyedit several books authored by Dr. John L. Amstutz, missionary, professor, leadership trainer, pastor, and long-time denominational leader in the Foursquare Church. Beyond that, he is a genuine Christian and a godly man. A few days ago I completed a fourth manuscript for Dr. Amstutz: Great Commission Church Movements: Learning from the Early Church, God’s Missionary People, to be published early next year.
Pictured here are two earlier titles I had the privilege of copyediting. Dr. Amstutz is making a positive difference in the world and I’m thankful to help in a small way.
All are published by Editorial RENUEVO (www.EditorialRenuevo.com).
Is there are difference between the roles of a copyeditor, a copywriter, and a proofreader? Or are they simply different words for the same thing?
Let’s begin with definitions. A copyeditor takes text (or copy) that someone else has written and ensures it is clear, coherent, consistent, and correct, all for the purpose of effective communication. I’ve heard it rumored that business owners place a high premium on effective communication. If they write anything for current and prospective customers and clients—flyers, website text, correspondence, and so forth—they should care about stuff like that. If they don’t know why they should care, have them contact me and I’ll be happy to explain it over a cup of coffee.
Better lists make better personal and professional documents and website content.
Often the best way to convey lots of information with maximum clarity in minimum space is through vertical lists. Vertical lists work well for brochures, flyers, and reports; website content; PowerPoint presentations; handouts for your class; and resumes and cover letters. Done well, vertical lists will help your readers quickly and easily comprehend the important information you want them to know.
But “done well” is easier said than done, and constructing vertical lists that are clear, concise, and consistent can be tricky. So here are some tips for avoiding common list-making errors and for creating bang-up vertical lists that will add zip and polish to your next project. Continue reading “Making a List and Checking It Twice”
Answering commonly (un)asked questions about copyediting.
A copyeditor’s job is to take an author’s written document and ensure that it is clear, concise, coherent, and correct. I often say that a good copyeditor will make an author’s piece shine a little brighter (and in some cases a lot brighter). A copyeditor’s job is not to “proofread” a document, which is a separate step in the publication process normally handled by a different person after all the copyediting and revising have been completed. Copyeditors will certainly catch many of the errors proofreaders catch—typos, missing or incorrect punctuation, misspellings, and so forth—but that isn’t their primary job.
Here are the three basic steps I typically take in copyediting a piece of writing for a client:
1. Provide the author with a cost estimate based on reviewing—and possibly editing a sample of—a portion of the material the author sends me via email (e.g., book manuscript, article, essay, letter, thesis, website content, etc.). The estimate will be based on two things: the number of words and the amount of copyediting involved, whether basic or heavy. The rule of thumb in the industry is that 250 words of text equals one manuscript page. So, for example, a 60,000-word document equals 240 manuscript pages, and that goes into the cost-estimate formula. Continue reading “How I Do My Job as a Copyeditor”