Tag Archive: proofreading

Nov 05

Error Rates in Editing: What’s Your Save Percentage? (podcast)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/67161590@N03/7770622796/in/photolist-cQEtr7-8fhQti-7jqEPPIn 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.


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2013/11/podcast-error-rates-in-editing/

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 Copyediting.com. 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.


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2013/10/podcast-how-many-errors-trigger-reprint/

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 »


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2013/08/copyediting-error-rate/

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 Copyediting.com.

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.


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2013/06/starter-kit-for-freelance-editors/

Sep 19

On-screen editing course starts Oct 30th, online

In fall 2012, I taught teaching 3 classes related to editing:

  • marketing for the freelance editor, half-day seminar in Ottawa
  • editing in the educational market, half-day seminar in Ottawa (all 3 dameditors)
  • on-screen editing, an online course presented in 4 parts — read below

Below are details people have been asking for about how the online course is run / structured. Links to the other two courses are found on the Training page.

View on YouTube

This online course in editing on-screen is surprisingly low tech, so there are minimal technological barriers. Each of the 4 lessons is distributed to a closed croup of students by email once per week as either a PDF or a Word file.

Use drawing tools from the Comment & Markup toolbar to make proofreading marks a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.

This nonsense sample shows how the built-in drawing and stamp tools can make proofreading marks on a PDF.

The EFA uses Yahoo groups for distribution and for the ensuing discussion that is encouraged. (I am preparing questions to stimulate discussion.)

Each week, a new lesson is uploaded. Students access the lessons and participate in discussion whenever it is convenient for them. The instructor will not be online 24/7, but will aim to respond in a timely manner.

Access to the course site (Yahoo Group) opens October 30th and closes on November 27th. The goal is to make the skills generic – so they can be used in a number of PDF editing platforms, Mac or PC, and any version of Word. Word IS required; no equivalents.

Each lessons includes these aspects, expanded on below:

  • written instructions
  • activities to check your learning along the way
  • links to video demos

Written instructions are kept to under 11 printed pages for each lesson. These are laid out with lots of white space, graphics, a table of contents, links to resources, and a self-assessment checklist.

Activities are designed so that it will be easy for the instructor to give feedback and guidance to students who want it; though no marks are assigned. Note that editing is neither taught not assessed in this course; it focusses on the technological skills alone. You can get a sneak peek of the demos (at 3x speed, mind you) in the video “trailer” made to promote the online course: http://youtu.be/ne5HfueFvfE

Videos are succinct and typically run under 2 minutes. Each video relates to a discrete part of the lesson; they show the editing in action on the screen, while the instructor narrates, describing what is happening. Video demos are identified by clickable icons in the written lesson; full URLs are provided in the resource notes at the end of each lesson. Videos are also available only to the closed group of students – via YouTube. Students can watch them any time, slow them down, speed them up, replay them, etc.

Lessons are designed to be completed in roughly 2 hours each. It depends on how much you like to practice, or if additional guidance is requested. You are encouraged to ask questions, since you are paying to access to the teacher!

Online classes run October 30th to November 20th. Presented by the Editorial Freelancers Association in the USA.


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2012/09/on-screen-editing-course-starts-oct-30th-online/

Dec 12

Thinking of a Career in Editing?

Updated Feb, 2014: added online resources

Most editors come at the profession from other areas of expertise. They find they are good with words and have become the “go to” person at their workplace. Stepping from science (say) into science editing, is a sideways step that can be much less painful than a complete career change. The steps below can help you gain experience and an idea of whether or not editing is for you. It’s an incredibly diverse career group. As you navigate the early phases, remember that whatever someone tells you, the exact opposite may also be true.

The Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC) just released a booklet about careers in editing. For now, you can see their advice on the (soon to be revamped) website.


To learn about editing:

  1. complete exercises
  2. take a course or seminar
  3. read a style guide, or four
  4. join a professional organization



To learn about freelancing:

  1. join a professional organization
  2. take a course or seminar
  3. read Louise Harnby’s book

Read the rest of this entry »


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2011/12/thinking-of-a-career-in-editing/

Oct 06

Editing Strategies: Checklists

Checklists help ensure all elements are in place.

Every now and then, someone asks me if there is a method to my editing. Do I go from “big picture” to “minutia,” for example.

No. It’s not usually that orderly. There is a lot of art to editing. Especially at the start of a project, I just read it, changing or making notes as I go.

However, when I’m well into a project, the editing needs become clearer – the problem spots more apparent – or the elements to check get longer, out comes my checklist.*

Copy editing and proofreading are a lot more amenable to systems than structural editing is.

Below is my checklist from proofing pages on a recent project. Read the rest of this entry »


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2011/10/editing-strategies-checklists/

Aug 12

How to Start a Style Sheet

A style sheet is a record of style choices made as the editor works on a document. They are usually specific to a project or client.

What the bare bones of a style sheet should note.

My template or boilerplate style sheet includes

  • dictionary preference and preference for first given spelling option,
  • style guide preference,
  • reading level,
  • British or US punctuation (for commas and quotes), and
  • number treatment.

This style sheet is jotted on the back of an envelope because the job was tiny, at the final stage, and non-repeating.

Now, my boilerplate reflects the typical subject of my work and often includes notes on the treatment of Read the rest of this entry »


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2011/08/how-to-start-a-style-sheet/

Jul 26

Using the PDF Markup Comments List: One User’s Experience

I am very pleased to release the first guest post on this blog, by my colleague Dawn Hunter, a freelance editor and a multi award-winning author.

I [Dawn] use Acrobat’s markup tools, but I don’t use the Summarize Comments function, and neither do the formatters I work with. I have to say it is a neat function and I appreciate Adrienne’s showing it to me.

What we use is the Show Comments List. You can open it by clicking the icon that looks like two speech bubbles on the left of your screen.

The comment bubble on the left side of the screen will reveal the comment list pane below your PDF. 

Read the rest of this entry »


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2011/07/using-the-pdf-markup-comments-list-one-user%e2%80%99s-experience/

Jul 15

Productivity Rates in Editing

“How long will it take to edit this?”

By wwarby William Warby (CC BY 2.0)


The question comes up a lot. At first, estimating seems like a shot in the dark. The best bet is to do a few random pages and multiply your findings to take in the whole manuscript. Also, take 60 seconds to edit a sample and identify the most pressing changes that are needed. However…


Page per hour guidelines follow.


Calculate time and cost in a click.



Read the rest of this entry »


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.catchthesun.net/2011/07/productivity-rates-in-editing/

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