Category Archive: proofreading

Mar 26

Simperial weights — converting units of measure in Canada

bathroom scale

62 kg or 62,369 g

Though I’d much rather announce “I weigh 70 kg,” metric hasn’t entirely stuck in Canada. We use a simperial system that I’ve been writing about lately. An editor adapting a text needs to know when pounds should be used instead of kilograms. Converting weights, today on the blog.

And yes, I do weigh more than the guy who took this photo, Daniel Oines, used under CC BY 2.0 license.

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Feb 18

Customize page numbers on a PDF using Adobe Acrobat 9, X, or XI

Acrobat page # customizationWhen your file doesn’t start on page 1, it is helpful to have the PDF show you the absolute page numbering, not the relative page number in that file. It’s particularly helpful for indexing and other page-number-sensitive markup that editors do.

Here’s how to do it. (A video showing X and XI follows these Acrobat 9 instructions.)

You need the full Acrobat program to customize the page numbering on a PDF. In Acrobat Pro 9, the setting is under Advanced > Document Processing > Number Pages

Acrobat Pro9 page # setting

Type the number of the first page in the “Start:” field.Acrobat Pro9 page # setting box


In the X and XI versions, it works as in this video tutorial.

In the Windows version of Acrobat, look under View > Page Navigation > Page menu item. On Windows, this shortcut is “Ctrl + Shift + N”; on Mac OS, it is “Cmd + Shift + N”. According to


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Jan 28

Checklists: saving your bacon and bringing it home too (podcast)

preflight Dave Wright reviews pre-flight checklist prior to take-off NASAChecklists are the focus of this episode, in which I expand on one of my posts from explaining how checklists save your life every day, and how they can make your editing more accurate, efficient, and profitable.

Plus, another small glimpse behind the editing curtain wherein I have edited a book that made me cry — in a good way.

Press play below or go to Soundcloud to listen or download. 9 min


You can subscribe to this podcast here.


Do you feel the endorphin rush when you cross something off your checklist? What goes on your editing checklist? Leave your comments below, or join the discussion over on the Dameditors Facebook page. 

Mentioned in this episode:


Read the rest of this entry »


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Dec 16

Spelling Wars—Why can’t Canadians simplify? (podcast)

woodleywonderworks_flickr:photos:wwworks:5243047628:Webster set out to simplify spelling when he wrote his American dictionary. Why do Canadians cling to complicated rules and single-letter distinctions like practice vs. practise?


In this episode, Adrienne expands on a post from in which she explores spelling choices in Canada, reads the dictionary, and dodges slings and arrows from her fellow wordsmiths.

7:19 min —

Press play below or subscribe to have this sent automatically to your podcatcher/ iTunes, or right-click to download the file.


Follow this link to instructions for subscribing to this podcast.


Are you with us or agin’ us? Leave  Leave your comments below, or join the discussion over on the Dameditors Facebook page.


Mentioned in this episode:

Original post: Practice vs Practise: Can’t we get along?



The image for this episode is by Woodley Wonderworks, used under CC BY 2.0 license.


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Nov 05

Error Rates in Editing: What’s Your Save Percentage? (podcast) this 5 min podcast I explore scientific evidence for what kind of error correction rate is humanly feasible. We’ll look at industry standards for copyeditors and proofreaders, too.

Press play below or go to Soundcloud to listen or download.


Mentioned in this podcast:

“The Mysterious Relationship: Authors and Their Editors” by Rosemary Shipton, in the 2011 compilation Editors, Scholars, and the Social Text.

Dr. Panko’s research on Human Error

Rich Adin: An American Copyeditor

Original blog post: Error Rates in Editing

Another post on error rates in books and what triggers a reprint: “How many errors trigger a reprint?” And the podcast version with extended content (8 min).



The photo is by Kris McGuire, used under CC by 2.0 license.

Listen here: as the podcast is migrated to the new server, this will be the new way to listen. Subscription update forthcoming.


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Oct 27

Listen now: podcast version of “How many errors trigger a book reprint?”

shocked flickr-com:photos:84744710@N06:7997288513:Rewritten for the audio format, and with a new quote or two: here is my first foray into podcasting in which I discuss errors in printed books and how often they get fixed.

Enjoy the verbal stumbles, and my talent for voicing others’ comments. New career! ;)
Press play below or subscribe to have all episodes delivered to your device for free.

For a print version of this topic, visit the Canadian, Eh? column on It’s published under the title: “How many errors trigger a reprint?



You may also be interested in hearing a newer podcast about error rates in editing, a post which provides research evidence that a 95% error correction rate is exceptionally high quality.

This is my first foray into the audio realm (thus the flubs and verbal stumbles). I hope to turn more of the posts into audio versions, since I prefer audio consumption myself after a long day of staring at print. I appreciate your comments and suggestions.



The photo is by Jon Bunting used under CC by 2.0 license.


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Aug 26

Typography for Copyeditors and Proofreaders

Practical Typography coverButterick’s Practical Typography

Though the designer creates the page templates and overall product design, it is the copy editor who is expected to mark up or tag each aspect of text so that it is treated right.

Deciding how to treat URLs, marking up changes to italics, boldface, line spacing, and so forth are expected of the proofreader in the final stages of production.

What Butterick has written is exactly the kind of non-language stuff I need to know in my editing job. Great resource.

Most importantly, to me, understanding the principles and limitations of design mean that my mark-up (requests) are both reasonable and practical. Knowing how to talk to designers (or the production department) is a valuable skill.

There’s a section on mathematical symbols, which I will point each new editor to.

His advice on using question marks and bangs (look it up) is spot on, but well outside the purview of the designer. That’s for the editor and/or writer to decide.

There’s a lot of opinion and judgement in this piece, don’t get me wrong. To wit: “curly quotes good, straight quotes bad.” Well, aren’t we just being a tad bit harsh? And “Don’t use Times New Roman. Ever.” Now I just feel bad for the poor little font.

But, I appreciate someone who is decisive. If you decide to follow this guide, you won’t have to decide much for yourself.


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Aug 08

What is an acceptable error rate for a copyeditor or proofreader?

Let me clarify: How many errors can an editor let stand?


Pulled that number out of the air. (Serious numbers below.)

But seriously, I’m human, you’re human… Only [the divine] is perfect. Errors happen, and the more errors that are in a manuscript to begin with, the more errors will remain.

Even teams of editors can’t guarantee a impeccable prose.

You can have good, fast, or cheap; never all three.

— Rosemary Shipton, Canadian Editor

Heck, I’ve picked up “polo bears” (for polar), “crystal movement of tectonic plates” (for crustal), and “replace with page 273, DO NOT have image” (for “OMG you’re fired”) in finished books. Read the rest of this entry »


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Jun 27

Reading List: Starter kit for freelance editors

This blog now has dozens of posts that will help the new starter. Click the Starter Kit for Editors category to see them all, or start with these essentials:


Before you edit for pay, learn the ropes:

1. Read these

Meeting Professional Editorial Standards
Editing exercises with solution discussions created by some of the most experienced editors in Canada; covers the gamut from restructuring to proofreading, and blogs to academics.
If you’re not studying for certification exams, the older editions are wonderful as well; they just don’t match the new standards. Called simply Meeting Editorial Standards.
Harnby book.jpgBusiness Planning for Editorial Freelancers
Follow the advice in this book and you’ll be off to a great start. Also recommended for existing freelancers who are feeling either stuck or ambitious. Or both, even.
Read my review.
Professional Editorial Standards
This sets out what tasks editors should do when performing various stages of editing. There are no standards in “the industry”, but this is a terrific starting place, and they are gaining some ground.
Quick Fixes for Business Writing: An Eight-Step Editing Process to Find and Correct Common Readability Problems
This is the print version of EAC’s most venerated seminar. An excellent system that provides order and sense when faced with an insurmountable edit. Available in print, as an ebook via Google Books, and in poster form from EAC. Seminars held across Canada or by request.
So, you want to be an editor.
A quick guide to what makes an editor, where they work, and what the career is like. Available free online, as a webpage or PDF, or at any EAC event.

2. Read more

You’ll need to learn at least one general purpose style guide, and any that is specific to your subject or client group. For example:

Chicago Manual of Style

Canadian Style

Canadian Press Style, plus Caps and Spelling

American Medical Association Style

Yahoo! Style

3. There’s more

Read my original post about how to become an editor. The above just gives you a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg. KOKedit has compiled a much longer list of resources. I’d even call it comprehensive.

Read the blogs of a variety of editors. Their insights into daily life and challenges — and their advice — will give you a good sense of what you’re in for and maybe even help you avoid some of the mistakes they’ve made. Start with this here blog, of course, and

Also, watch the Editors Reads blog, which sets out to review books about editing. I’m certain you will find more resources there to help you on your journey. Add your favourites in the comments.


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Nov 15

Keyboard shortcuts for proofreading PDFs

Editing a PDF? List of keyboard shortcuts for


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