Captions are a weak link in the quality assurance chain, being something most people skim or skip while reviewing a document. This makes checking captions an easy way to earn your keep as a copy editor or proofreader. Today, in my Canadian, Eh? column at Copyediting.com, get a QA checklist for editing captions.
Spoiler: the fish are anchovies. Jenny, the photographer, was kind enough to point out that this is correctly described in her caption and that the photo title just reflects a saying familiar to her. I hope she forgives me for using a writer’s “device” that suggests she made an error. Her photos are stunning, and I want to stay on her good side.
Mark up any file you can print to/save as PDF and absolutely anything you can take a screen shot of: website flash menus, apps, PowerPoint presentations, YouTube videos, and good old text manuscripts. You can do all of this with the free Adobe Reader XI that works on both Mac and Windows platforms.
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.
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 »
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.
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.
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 Press Style, plus Caps and Spelling
American Medical Association 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.
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.
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:
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!
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.