Monthly Archives: December 2020

CIEP social media round-up: October and November 2020

Well, we’ve been busy. In our last round-up, we described our first chatbot social media campaign, which featured Lynne Murphy’s focus paper on global Englishes. There was more chatbot fun on Facebook in late October when we delivered 350 copies of Rob Drummond’s focus paper The linguistic sophistication of swearing via Messenger. That was followed up by a cross-platform promotion that focused on grammar snafus. The Slaying zombie language ‘rules’ fact sheet and a spooky version of our ever-popular language quizzes were promoted just in time for Halloween.

The fun wasn’t all on Facebook, though. Next, we posted Meet the Directors videos on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, revealing not just a few surprising facts about the Council!

November saw our first online conference. We hope you enjoyed the Facebook competition! Over 1,200 people entered, and five won free places picked randomly from an online Wheel of Names spun by the marketing and social media directors.

The CIEP blog is a valuable repository of content written by our members, and we want to celebrate that. Now that our new scheduling system is up and running, we’re able to ensure that our articles are broadcast via social media on a regular basis, regardless of when they’re written. Over the past two months, we’ve posted or reposted blogs about glossaries, the forums, language, business tips, grammar, the author–editor relationship, networking, project management, productivity, querying, references and imposter syndrome.

We’re also now scheduling weekly posts and videos about the directory. Each one features a genre, subject or service, and links to the directory. The goal? To show potential clients around the world how to find a qualified editorial professional who’s a great fit for them.

And finally, membership and training. Our courses, guides and membership benefits are also featuring every week on social media. Did you catch the video about the Efficient Editing course? We know how much people are missing face-to-face workshops so we’re spreading the word about the CIEP live webinars via the socials too.

Lost in translation

As usual, we brought our followers a rich selection of content from all over the internet about words in all their glory and variety. Popular were our postings of articles that explored words from different languages that just couldn’t be translated into one English word, yet described something exactly. On 10 November on Twitter and 13 November on Facebook, we shared 10 untranslatable words that perfectly describe how you’re feeling in 2020 – for example, all that boketto (staring blankly into space, Japanese) in your home might give you fernweh (a hunger to travel to faraway places, German). We complemented this on 11 November with 38 wonderful words with no English equivalent and topped them both off a couple of weeks later with a Merriam-Webster quiz asking where in the world certain English words originated from.

Dogs can definitely boketto

We also posted a piece this Halloween-tide about Edgar Allan Poe’s vocabulary, from ‘alarum’ to ‘tintinnabulation’ – a word, incidentally, that revealed the source of ‘tintinnabulum’, used in Part I of The Zombie That Ruled Grammar for Infinite Eternity, subject of Riffat Yusuf’s spine-chilling language column for the CIEP.

Ace ACES

ACES, the society for editing in America, was a veritable fount of knowledge, sharing its wisdom on editing-related matters from understanding image rights to public speaking to copyediting graphic novels. Especially fascinating was its piece on ablaut reduplication – not another untranslatable phrase, but the phenomenon that we all know but don’t know that we know, of vowels in constructions such as ‘ding-dong’ or ‘hee-haw’ moving from the front to the back of the mouth. This was discussed at the grammar amnesty session at our 2019 conference, with a prize (a KitKat – geddit?) offered for more examples. Published just after our 2020 online conference season, this article became a lovely reminder of when we were last together in person. Thanks, ACES.

Words of the year

In November, Collins Dictionary named its word of the year: lockdown. A fortnight later, Oxford Languages announced that, for them, it wasn’t possible to identify just one word of 2020, and they released a report, Words of an Unprecedented Year, instead. Perhaps it’s time to look somewhere completely different for words that inspire and delight. On 13 November on Twitter, we posted New York Magazine’s video of the vocabulary of Schitt’s Creek’s Moira Rose, whose speech fairly bombilates with unusual terms: something to confabulate about as you chin-wag on Zoom with family and friends over the next few weeks. We wish you a truly glee-ridden holiday season, dear social media followers.

Don’t miss a thing in editing and proofreading. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Photo credits: social media by Merakist; dog by Naomi Suzuki, both on Unsplash

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

A Finer Point: Rebel within a clause

By Riffat Yusuf

Here’s another question to keep you awake at night: what’s with the erratic commas in Riffat’s emails? So as not to discriminate between coordinating and subordinating conjunctions? More likely because she’s upstairs, New Hart’s Rules is downstairs and this pre-dawn missive isn’t work-related.

Here’s an easier one: is it incontrovertibly acceptable for professional editors not to pedantise their off-the-clock correspondence? Yes, say 87.5% of the CIEP members I polled, with a dissident John Espirian saying no, yes.*

Until the CIEP ratifies the unwritten rule about not having to ensure consistency in informal emails, text messages and social media, I shall quote Kathleen Lyle if ever my clarity and commas are queried: ‘my writing practices are shaped partly by the technology I’m using, and partly by my social situation’.

Dash it!

Em and en dashes are more easily ceded than any other punctuation mark by the off-duty editors I surveyed. Nick Taylor, who plucks out the commas between cumulative adjectives in a shopping list and wrote a blog post to help me weed them out, elides dates with a hyphen in informal contexts. He says it’s ‘simply too much of a hassle for something that isn’t particularly noticed’. Nevertheless, strimming a dash chafes his editing conscience: ‘I know, deep down, that I’m wrong. I wonder if the recipient will feel like I’ve cheated them out of a “proper” dash. Worse, what if they judge me – an editor – for it?’

I share Nick’s misgivings and wish I shared the same shortcut in informal writing because, unlike my impulsive commas, his unconventional dashes are sanctioned by Kathleen Lyle and royalty. Kathleen isn’t fussed about using hyphens instead of dashes and she knows why: ‘Conventions about dashes were intended to regularise text that is being prepared for publication, not for private or semi-private correspondence.’ Kathleen doesn’t expect people to measure the width of en or em rules in handwritten letters (nor, she suspects, did Queen Victoria, whose dashes were disparate) so why would they be scrutinised in an email?

Technology gives Kathleen yet another reason to skip convention. Her email and browser software doesn’t play ball with the keyboard shortcuts she’s set up in Word. Unlike Kathleen, I can’t say that technology lets me down – after all, a comma doesn’t require a shortcut. If Kathleen inserts or leaves out commas in her emails, she is electing to do so; when I do it, it’s with the accuracy of a flipped coin.

I share one trait with Kathleen, though; we are both one-finger prodders. (In Kathleen’s case this applies only to phone and tablet touchscreens, and not soft fruit and bread rolls.) The downside to not having long, flexible, ballerina thumbs is that punctuating anything on my phone exacts the forbearance of a Bletchley Park coder. You would think that spyware would be evolved enough to key huffing and effing as ‘backspace and stick a comma where it should be’.

Smiley culture

There’s more than one way to style a chat. Or, as Ayesha Chari says, to ‘mould communication to fit the context in ways that we’re not always aware of’. Although Ayesha cares more about punctuation than other writing conventions such as ‘dangling whatevers’, she uses emojis in her informal text messages. Emojis instead of punctuation, that is.

Ayesha’s picture punctuation is, she tells me, ‘partly to fit protocol’; she sometimes types then deletes a standard mark and inserts an emoji instead. I could ask her whether, as Gretchen McCulloch suggests in Because Internet, she styles to convey gesture rather than structure the sentence, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

FYI friends, if you write to me, any emoji (even a misappropriated vegetable) is more instructive and more welcome than a lopsided emoticon. I crane my neck to read your semicolon winks and cannot decipher terminal punctuation – a grin is easily a double chin :)) or whatever person with a cold sore this is :). And, BTW, I’ve used up half of the abbreviations in my social media repository, so your multi-letter AF shortcut is my CBA to google.

What makes me smile(y!) about Ayesha’s styling is that it belies an ingrained editorial process. Not only does she, for example, replace a question mark with ‘Face with Monocle’ 🧐, she also uses emojis to edit other emojis. So when she mistakenly uses a 😄 for a 😊 (exclamation mark and full stop respectively) she will correct it with one of these: 😌.

Grok star

I think it’s a sign that you’ve truly arrived as an editor when you can let down your guard in informal correspondence as Lucy Ridout does: ‘Some days it’s all about acknowledgement of mid points being OK at 11 a.m.; on other days it’s more random.’ Whimsical by default, and not by actual fault, is how I would like fellow editors to intuit my inconsistencies. In breezier correspondence, when I’m not evoking Kathleen Lyle, I should imitate Lucy’s modelling: ‘The rule I break most flagrantly in my own writing is consistency … I don’t adhere to a personal style sheet in all things.’

I doubt, though, that I can carry off unpredictable shortcuts with Lucy’s flair, especially in exchanges with an editor whose attention to detail is unerringly consistent even in his most off-the-cuff emails. Robin Black’s compound modifiers are always on point and his e.g. is never without two of them. But even Robin breaks the rules, diving into ‘the fantastically deep pool of English words’ and coming up with, wait for it, a sentence containing etc. etc. Yikes!

Robin’s double et cetera, while not nearly as gauche as a single etc. (minus the point) ending a list introduced by ‘such as’, is nevertheless an infraction by his standards. Spoken English regularly employs a double et cetera in shared contexts, he explains, ‘to extend meaning without going into the details’ (imagine a client describing a project: ‘just a light proofread, maybe a quick look at the bibliography etc. etc.’ – who doesn’t recognise those et ceteras?). Robin uses the same shorthand in writing: ‘It’s a sort of alternative function provided by our Latin friend … while also lending a casual tone to the writing, which I will very much be after if “etc.” is making an appearance.’

Avanti!

Fine editors, your habits have spurred my own rebellion against conformity: henceforth (but only in a non-professional setting), to each (adjective) their own (comma)! Tonight, at unreasonable o’clock, I shall be launching an exclusive, somehow inclusive, flagship, unremitting, partisan, insomniac, coup de virgule in an email to friends … that I will never send because the hand controlling the mouse wants more than anything to be a stickler for chapter and verse. My fixation with conventional style and usage in all media – yes, on the back of an envelope! – is a repudiation of decades of not caring enough. I am a wannabe pedant in awe of CIEP members who are hardwired to self-edit even on a day off.

You can see that an editor might self-identify as ‘quite slavish to the rules of writing’ two words into an email from John Espirian. His salutation is punctuated twice. (Hi, Riffat.) But John’s punctiliousness is crafted on informed choice rather than dogged acceptance: ‘Most of the perceived rules are really just style choices, and in that case, who’s to say whether we’re doing anything wrong by following them or not?’

John has been editing long and successfully enough to arrive at that place where good editing is innate, and if it carries over to one’s unpublished work, then that’s a bonus, not an exertion. What he says gives some hope that I, too, might one day hover my pen over an editorial qualms vs editors who got over it version of Rob Drummond’s pedantry graph and rest it comfortably at point D.


*That survey

Data for this article is from responses extrapolated to suit the purposes of the pollster.


Riffat Yusuf is a West London-based proofreader and copyeditor, and a content editor for a small structural engineering company. She has been editing since 2018, and before that she taught ESOL for 10 years and brought up her family. In the dim and distant past she was employed in journalism, radio and television. In the future, she’d like to work on ELT resources.

 


Photo credits: writing devices by ConvertKit; thinking emoji by Markus Winkler on Unsplash.
A graph and explanation of linguistic knowledge vs linguistic pedantry by Rob Drummond.

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

A week in the life of a fiction editor and writer

By Rachel Rowlands

I’ve been a freelance fiction editor for about three and a half years now. I love what I do, and aside from getting to immerse myself in fiction every day, being able to be flexible is a big perk of the job. This is because I’m also a writer.

I studied English and Creative Writing at university, and I always wanted to be an author. But working in book publishing was another ambition of mine – and becoming a freelance editor was the only way I could do that, given that London living costs are ridiculous. Plus, I grew up in the north, and I’m a homebody!

Editing and writing go hand in hand for me – I can pass on knowledge I’ve gained as a writer to my clients. I’ve been able to advise my authors by drawing on my own experiences of exploring traditional publishing.

A typical week

My day-to-day tends to be similar. I’m flexible about the hours I work, but I try to stick to office hours and be done by 5 or 6pm. A typical week involves working on one or two of the following projects:

  • a manuscript assessment or beta read
  • a copy or line edit
  • a proofread.

I usually work on manuscript assessments and beta reads alongside a copy/line edit or a proofread, because I enjoy the variety, and it breaks up the day. I’ll spend the morning doing the more intensive job – say, a heavy copy/line edit or a complicated proofread – and the afternoon reading a manuscript on my Kindle and making developmental notes. I mainly work at my desk, but sometimes I move to an armchair downstairs by the window, with a view of the greenery outside.

There are other tasks involved in my work, depending on what’s going on in a given week. I don’t have a dedicated admin day, though. I’ll do these tasks as and when needed, either first thing in the morning or when I’ve wrapped up a chunk of work for the day:

  • answering emails from clients
  • responding to enquiries
  • responding to requests from publishers
  • invoicing
  • sending out contracts
  • booking in new and repeat clients
  • accounting
  • marketing (anything from writing a blog post to networking)
  • visiting Twitter (I use it to keep up with the book industry, although it’s easy to procrastinate – I use SelfControl for Mac when I need to focus).

How I fit writing into my day

I don’t have a set writing routine. Writing comes in stages. Sometimes I’m drawing a map of a fictional world, or outlining, or writing pitches to send to my agent; other times I’m knee-deep in a draft.

If I’m up early, I’ll write in bed with a cup of coffee before moving to my desk to do client work. Other days, when I really need to crack on with editorial work (and that comes first because it pays the bills), the writing will happen later in the evening.

I might email my agent with pitches or to discuss ideas. It’s great to have someone supportive on your side, and I think that’s part of what I find rewarding about being an editor.

How writing helps me be a better editor

I’ve been learning about and studying writing craft for a long time – since before I became an editor. This gave me a huge advantage when I set up as a freelancer. Things I learned at university, or by digging into books, attending writing groups, or through trial and error and critique, I can pass on to my clients to help them grow.

Being a fiction writer myself, I can spot issues in other people’s stories, such as world-building problems, exposition, hollow dialogue and characterisation issues. But my writing experience allows me to do other things more focused on the industry and cheerleading for my clients:

  • helping authors with query letters
  • advising on submitting to agents
  • explaining the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing
  • empathising with my authors
  • discussing rejection honestly – it happens to everyone, and I often tell my clients about my own experience of racking up rejection letters
  • having frank conversations about the likelihood of being able to make money as a writer
  • pinpointing the market/target audience of a project – for example, I’ve worked on some MG (Middle Grade) projects that focused on grown-ups, which would be a hard sell.

Some might feel it’s a conflict of interest, being both a writer and an editor of fiction, but most of my authors appreciate my knowledge and that I can relate to their struggles. I’ve walked in their shoes, and they can trust me to be honest about what their work needs. I try not to impose my personal preferences, but instead frame things in a way that can help develop their own vision in line with their goals.

Professional development

I try to fit some professional development into my week, if I’m not too slammed. This can be anything from making progress on a course I’m taking, watching a webinar, to reading a reference book. This week, it was catching up on the CIEP’s conference recordings because I was too busy to participate in real-time.

I count reading books in the genres I edit as professional development, so I always fit leisure reading into my day (recently I’ve finished and loved The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix). Sometimes my leisure reading will be related to a writing project I’m working on. I’m currently reading some HP Lovecraft stories and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Eerie Tales, since I’m writing a historical/gothic fantasy.

Leisure time

When my mind’s been occupied by editing and writing all day, I need a breather! I’ll do something light-hearted, like watching an anime with my husband, or playing Animal Crossing. Working with words can be tiring, so I like to start off my downtime with something unrelated to books. Yoga helps me stretch out after a long day at a desk!

I always try to squeeze in an hour of leisure reading before bed. Even though I read all day, it’s my favourite way to unwind.

And that’s what my work week usually looks like. I take weekends off from editing, but I do some writing then, too, because I have more free time. Like other writers, it’s a balance to fit everything in, but I love what I do!

Rachel Rowlands is an editor, writer and Professional Member of the CIEP. She has a degree in English and Creative Writing and specialises in adult, YA and MG fiction, including fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance and crime/thriller. She also edits general commercial non-fiction. You can find her at www.racheljrowlands.com or on Twitter.

 

 


Photo credits: books by Ed Robertson; writing by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

What’s e-new? 21 for 2021

By Andy Coulson

In keeping with the theme of ‘Practical tools to boost your business’, I’ve come up with a list of 21 tech tips for 2021. These are all things I’ve tried and tested myself.

1. Have a system

This is the single most important tip of the lot. Find a system to organise and manage your work that works for you, and use it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a notebook and pen or a complex program. Keeping good records and knowing what you have done and what you still have to do saves you time and effort (and stress!). Some of the tools below will help with that.

Word

2. Learn Word

I suspect that for most of us, Word is our most-used tool. Within this there are lots of really useful smaller tools that can help you edit faster and more efficiently. Tools like styles, templates and wildcard Find and Replace can all help. Take some time to learn how to use these – the CIEP offers a ‘Word for Practical Editing’ course that covers them. Also, look into customising Word’s various autocorrect and autoformat options, which can save you a lot of time and heartache.

3. Macros

While we’re on the subject of Word, macros are another timesaver. These allow you to automate certain actions, so a couple of keystrokes can run a series of actions that would normally take multiple keystrokes. Karen Cox and Paul Beverley both gave excellent presentations on the subject at this year’s CIEP conference. Paul’s ‘Starting Macros but Slowly’ video on YouTube is a good place to start.

4. PerfectIt

Staying with Word, PerfectIt is an add-on that allows you to check consistency and apply style rules to documents. It comes with a number of good style files, but you will benefit from investing time in learning how to edit and customise these. Daniel Heuman also gave a useful presentation on customising PerfectIt at the CIEP conference. Intelligent Editing’s website, the PerfectIt Users Facebook group and the CIEP forums are also good resources.

Office

5. Learn Excel

I’m guessing you bought Microsoft Office to get Word? But it also means you have access to other programs that you may not be using to their full extent. Take Excel – it lets you do lots of things involving numbers or data. You can manage your accounts, keep lists of jobs and record the time and quantity of work involved. Maya Berger’s presentation at this year’s CIEP conference was a great introduction to this. Excel’s in-built help with formulas walks you through using them, allowing you to experiment.

6. OneDrive

With Office you also get access to Microsoft’s OneDrive online cloud storage. Some of my clients have expressed concerns about the terms and conditions on other cloud storage services, but so far OneDrive seems to be a broadly accepted solution. I use this to back up all my files, and it has an easy-to-use share feature that allows you to share a folder with a client. This is a reliable way to return finished files – simply right-click on the file or folder, click ‘Share’ and then send the file or copy a link and send that via email.

7. Windows App Explorer/Mac App Store

Just as on your phone or tablet, the major computer operating systems now tend to have an App Store. It is well worth having a poke around in these, as there are often some little gems available.

8. OneNote

One such gem (although it can be a real Marmite application!) is OneNote. This is available as an app or as part of the Microsoft 365 subscription. It is a digital note-taking app that allows you to capture freeform notes. On a tablet it supports freehand drawings, too. I’ve used it as an alternative to a pad for making notes as I work.

Clipboard tools and text expanders

9. ClipX

ClipX is a small, free clipboard expander. It lets you access a list of your most recent clipboard entries and reuse them. It also supports add-ins, one such being Stickies, which is an editable list of sticky items that you can paste in. I use that for common tags or comments when I have to tag a file.

10. TextExpander

Text expanders take a short key sequence and expand them into a longer piece of text, eg typing ‘\pfa’ might expand into ‘please find attached the requested file’. TextExpander works across the programs on your computer and allows you to build a library of replacements and retain formatting.

11. Phrase Express

Phrase Express is an alternative to TextExpander. It seems to be aimed at corporates with multiple users, but is still very usable on a single machine.

Time

12. toggl track

The recently rebranded toggl track is probably the best-known time tracker. The website, browser plug-in and app allow quick and easy time tracking. You can group these by project and customer, and break projects into smaller steps (eg by chapter). The free version is very usable, and the paid plans can also handle billing.

13. Harvest

Harvest is another time-tracking app, but is more focused on billing. It has a free trial period, but after that it is paid for.

14. RescueTime

RescueTime tracks your time in the background and allows you to see where you have spent the time on your computer and your phone. It is intended to help you manage your computer time and see where your time-wasters are. I find it helpful as a back-up to toggl track. If I forget to start a timer, RescueTime can tell me I spent five hours on Word, for example.

15. Pomodoro

Pomodoro is a productivity technique that involves breaking your work up into chunks (typically 25 minutes) with short breaks between. This is supposed to help with focus, but I use it from time to time just to remind myself to get up and move. There are many good apps to support this, but look out for ones where you can adjust the times to suit you. Search for Pomodoro timers in your search engine or app store.

16. Break timers

Break timers encourage you to step away from the screen for a bit. There are many options available. I like Workrave, which is free, configurable and features sheep.

Dictionaries

17. Lexico/OED

We all need a dictionary, and the OED recently created a free version called Lexico. It uses the same interface as the full subscription product, so it remains easy to use. (The full product is often available through your local library.) You can also access other dictionaries online for free, such as Collins and Merriam-Webster.

PDFs

18. PDFCandy

I’ve talked about PDFCandy before. I think it creates the cleanest, most accurate Word files from a PDF of any of the tools I’ve tried, even with multi-column magazine layouts. The web-based tool is free to use.

Organisation tools

19. Todoist

If you like using to-do lists to organise yourself, then Todoist is my favourite tool to manage these. It will work on a computer or on a phone or tablet (and will sync across platforms) and has both free and paid for versions.

20. ClickUp

ClickUp is my organisation tool of choice. It has quite a steep learning curve because it is very flexible. It enables you to capture information about your jobs and organise and present that in a lot of different ways. I use it mainly for tracking progress, record keeping and planning my availability.

21. Explore!

Many of the tools mentioned are free, have a free version or allow a trial period. It is worth experimenting with tools to see if they can improve your system. Always try and run them together with your existing, tried-and-trusted system while you test them out.

Andy Coulson is a reformed engineer and primary teacher, and a Professional Member of CIEP. He is a copyeditor and proofreader specialising In STEM subjects and odd formats like LaTeX.

 

 


‘What’s e-new?’ was a regular column in the SfEP’s magazine for members, Editing Matters. The column has moved onto the blog until its new home on the CIEP website is ready.

Members can browse the Editing Matters back catalogue through the Members’ Area.


Photo credits: partially open laptop by Tianyi Ma; hourglass by NeONBRAND, both on Unsplash

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Forum matters: Business tools to boost your business

This feature comes from the band of CIEP members who volunteer as forum moderators. You will only be able to access links to posts if you’re a forum user and logged in. Find out how to register.

An Excel shortcut, how to set up multiple monitors, how to reflect domestic costs in a tax return, how to stay well in lockdown. These are just some of the issues that members have brought to the CIEP forums, looking for help and practical advice. It is a reflection of the age we live in that the responses often recommend an app, a macro, a program or some other automated tool as the solution.

Perhaps inevitably, most posts seeking help or advice are about grammar, punctuation, usage or other language-related problems. But there is a wealth of expertise among the membership on the broader practical aspects of running a business. Most of us are freelancers. So, without admin, secretarial or IT support, multi-tasking has to become second nature.

Digital marketing

A great example of the forums acting as a resource for business tools comes in the area of website building. Most members count a website as a key element of their marketing. There have been a number of threads over the years with advice on the best website hosts, tools and servers for newcomers. One request for advice on website builders elicited views on six different options and an additional resource for templates – all in just 24 hours! The advantage of the forums is that you get suggestions from people in the same line of business who will be facing many of the same challenges. Other threads discuss resources for logo design and blogs, even links to courses on how to improve SEO.

Money matters

However we approach our business, there is no escaping the need to keep careful and accurate accounts. CIEP members shared knowledge and advice about key business tools in a thread on accounts software where members – crucially, with similar business needs to the original poster – weighed in with advice on a number of different accounting packages. They have also touched on the pros and cons (in the UK) of setting up as a limited company or a sole trader, how to handle specific tax issues like PAYE or allowing for domestic costs in a tax return.

All the answers

No discussion about boosting business efficiency would be complete without a mention of macros – the one topic that has a forum all to itself. Its threads reveal that we have members at all points on the spectrum, from programming experts to absolute beginners. But the help and advice available – and freely offered by some members – has enabled many to conquer their initial fear of macros and discover the huge improvements and time savings that can be achieved with them. You can also find discussions on the forums about other editing software packages, such as PerfectIt.

And if you can’t find what you want, just ask! Earlier this year a member said they couldn’t find much information about Linux on the forums, so they posted a question and set off a thread with competing views on the usefulness of Linux as an operating system.

Training, an essential part of maintaining our professionalism and standards, is another area in which the forums are a major source of ideas and inspiration. Many CIEP newcomers have come to the forums for advice on how to negotiate the maze of courses available from the CIEP and other providers, to boost their chances of finding the right course for the career path they have chosen.

Tips for productivity

There are always new forum threads on a wide range of products, programs and tools with a common theme of boosting productivity. Topics covered include:

Keeping healthy

As we all wish 2020 a (probably not very) fond farewell, it is also worth noting that the forums were a healthy source of advice about maintaining our mental health and dealing with the stresses that have come our way. Members have shared ideas and tips on loneliness, difficulties with concentration and a range of self-care ideas, including walking, resting, meditation and cookery.

Many members cite the forums as one of the greatest benefits of CIEP membership (and some of us probably spend too much time on them – see the recent blog post on productivity!). They can be a veritable gold mine of help and advice, and their value comes from the fact that it is members, many with similar experiences and facing the same challenges, helping each other.


Photo credits: But by all means do it by S O C I A L . C U T; high impact designs by NordWood Themes, both on Unsplash

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

#CIEP2020: a conference of community, support and shared interest

The pandemic that traversed the globe in 2020 prompted the annual CIEP conference to go online for the first time. The Institute’s AGM took place in September, with 134 members in attendance, and 218 voting on the resolutions either before or during the AGM. The conference was moved to 2–4 November to allow more preparation time. It attracted 380 attendees, some attending the online sessions as they happened on 2, 3 and 4 November and others watching the recordings released the following week.

Gráinne Treanor reflects on the conference and how digital was different.

Delegates at the 2019 SfEP conference.

A hashtag is such a little thing. Yet #CIEP2020 was like a beacon, which my online Oxford Dictionary defines as ‘a fire or light set up in a high or prominent position as a warning, signal, or celebration’.

Before March 2020, many of us were already accustomed to working alone. Lockdown added weight to the isolation, however. This year, no matter how much we wanted to meet others in our field, there could be no conference.

Having been to the ‘real thing’, I didn’t expect I would enjoy an online conference. Yet from the opening address by CIEP chair Hugh Jackson to his closing remarks, the conference was as informative, educational and enjoyable as I imagine it might have been ‘in real life’.

The session on mastermind groups reminded me why being part of such a group enriches members as professionals and friends, providing a sense of collegiality despite separation.

The business sessions scared me, as usual, because they reminded me of the part of my job I feel least competent about. But Louise Harnby and Erin Brenner chipped away at my fear, offering encouraging insights into things that can make a difference to how we promote our work.

The sessions on macros, style sheets, PerfectIt and Excel provided me with tips on how to work more efficiently. I used to think I was organised, but I’m not so sure after Maya Berger’s session on using Excel to log business records. Fraser Dallachy’s exploration of the Historical Thesaurus of English had me so mesmerised I almost forgot to collect a child from school, and Sarah Grey’s treatment of inclusive language both moved and empowered me. As for Susie Dent and Denise Cowle? I know I’m not the only one who was impressed by Denise’s skill, and the interview was a perfect mix of information, fun, insight and wisdom. My Masters swimming group has a new word in its lexicon: curglaff.

I am an introvert and lockdown suited me at first. But eventually, even I felt lonely. I began to question this way of working, and I struggled with separating work from other parts of my life. My desk beckoned, and let’s face it, what else would I be doing? (I could have done with Marieke Krijnen’s session on editing in the era of COVID-19 a few months ago!)

Thankfully, a renewed personal commitment to my accountability group and participation in CIEP Cloud forums restored some balance. But it was #CIEP2020 that buoyed me right up. True, digital was different. There were no hugs, leisurely chats around coffee tables or explorations of new places. But despite what we lost, we gained much. There were no travel costs, families who missed us or stressful dashes to train stations and airports. #CIEP2020 was more accessible. We didn’t have to choose between excellent sessions or be disappointed that the ones we really, really wanted to attend were full. We could get on with our lives between sessions and sometimes during sessions. There were even times when I cooked dinner while paying attention to presenters. Delegates met people who might not have attended ‘in real life’ and I think many saw possibilities for online conferences, mini-conferences or workshops to complement a ‘real’ conference in the future, perhaps at different stages in the year.

Most important for me, however, was the sense of community, support and shared interest I took for granted at ‘real’ conferences but didn’t expect to find online. Now I can’t help but imagine a little hashtag dotted around the globe, signalling the presence of what Hugh described in his closing words as ‘the humanness and empathy’ that mark us out as members of a community with a common purpose, through which we influence what gets published and disseminated and what gets left behind. Thank you, #CIEP2020. May you shine on.

Gráinne Treanor (@EditorGrainneT) is an Advanced Professional Member of CIEP. She lives in the west of Ireland and edits books, papers and other resources, mainly in the humanities. Her special interests are education (theory, practice, philosophy, teaching, textbooks, literacy, special educational needs including autism), child development, society and religion.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Why macros deserve pride of place in your editing toolbox

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Christina Petrides reviewed Macro-driven book editing, presented by Paul Beverley.

Paul Beverley at the 2019 SfEP conference.

If you are a macro newbie, as I am, you may have thought that this session wasn’t for you. But any time the Macro King – as introduced by Beth Hamer – holds a session, I find it’s worth listening in.

With the myriad of editing tools that are out there, we begin to dabble in macros as we find our editing feet. Most of us know the power of the macros that Paul has written – DocAlyse and ProperNounAlyse, to name just two. Now if – again, like me – you found those to be a revelation for your editing work, you’re in for a surprise.

Paul’s session was less ‘what to do’ to improve your editing efficiency but more ‘this is what you could be doing in the next two to four years’.

Every stage of editing could be macro-assisted. Macros don’t replace skill and intelligence, but can take over the boring bits, pay better attention than you, and allow you to enjoy editing the text.

The hour-long session was fast-paced and full of information. Paul began by putting macros and their power into perspective. There are currently 794 macros available in his book and 25 hours of tutorials on his YouTube channel. Of those, 16 are dedicated to FRedit, which even has its own manual, demonstrating the power of FRedit alone. From its beginnings in the 1980s, FRedit has been evolving in Paul’s expert hands into what it is today.

So when the Macro King says he wants to inspire us into using more macros to make our lives easier (not put us off), it’s worth hearing him out.

New macro users are told that Paul focuses on three types of macros. They cover analysis, making global changes before you start and making changes as you read – all expertly covered by Karen Cox’s earlier session.

As user experience and understanding grow, so does the ability to use macros effectively. Paul broke them down into an additional ten ways in which they can assist us editors in our work:

  1. instant information gathering (counting things, searching the internet, checking references)
  2. speed navigation (searching, comparing, moving around the text)
  3. list handling
  4. file handling (combining/splitting files, converting a whole folder to PDF, accepting Track Changes)
  5. comment handling (creating comment and query lists)
  6. highlighting and colour handling (adding or removing)
  7. figure and table handling (adjusting/stripping out spacing)
  8. formatting (making and using list styles, changing styles, finding ‘funny’ formatting, copy/paste formatting, formatting equations/lists)
  9. note handling (converting to text, re-embedding, correcting formatting)
  10. reference handling (checking/correcting citations, adjusting format, checking alphabetisation).

Paul then quickly demonstrated many of these macros in action on real files.

If this has got you quaking in your editing boots, take a step back. Pick one or two macros to start with and get comfortable using those. Start with the analysis macros, then add to your macro toolkit as your skill and experience grow.

What seems frightening and insurmountable can soon be second nature, and a whole new world of editing can open up. Take it slowly and you may soon be creating your own macros!

Christina Petrides is an Intermediate Member who recently discovered the power of macros. She turned to editing and writing after a career in environmental consultancy, which she still dabbles in. She focuses on business and academic work, although will work on almost anything non-fiction. Travel is her other great love, and she’s often working on the road and blogging about it.

 


If you’re taking your first tentative steps into using macros, do check out the summary of Karen Cox’s Macros for beginners session.


CIEP members can download a Getting started with macros fact sheet from within their members’ area.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Tried-and-tested formulas to help your business run smoothly

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Michelle Ward reviewed Excel tips for editors, presented by Maya Berger.

Maya Berger running a workshop at the 2019 SfEP conference.

The Editor’s Affairs (TEA) is an Excel spreadsheet package which helps you ‘take the guesswork out of quoting and run your business with confidence’ – two problems I identified with as a relatively new businesswoman and an early stages proofreader.

Before hearing Maya speak about TEA during a Cloud Club West Zoom in September, I was writing my CPD and proofreading jobs down on paper, working out rates for words/hour and words/pence using mathematical formulas learned many years ago in school. I would then transfer this data to a home-made spreadsheet, which never seemed to carry over correctly to the next month or year. I was duplicating work, making mistakes in calculations, and getting frustrated.

Getting to grips with Excel

Maya started her session at this year’s CIEP conference with a quick canter through the many intricacies of Excel – valuable both to beginners and to advanced users. Among other things, she showed us how to:

  • wrap text in columns
  • hide unwanted columns and rows
  • input negative numbers

Her troubleshooting tips explained quick solutions to cryptic errors that I normally research on Google, such as:

  • #DIV/0!
  • #REF!
  • #VALUE!
  • Green triangles

A nice cup of TEA

Maya showed us her demo TEA spreadsheet, which has separate pages for:

  • CPD
  • project timesheet
  • income
  • expenses

She led us patiently through the steps needed to input our own data, which would then magically populate the columns and rows using pre-loaded formulas. We could then confidently quote for new business, knowing we would have enough time to complete the work before deadline, and would be paid an honest wage for time taken. When the time comes to apply for a CPD certificate or a membership upgrade, we can simply look at the CPD page and know instantly whether we have enough hours and enough points. The Income/Expenses pages would be useful at financial year end. What more could a freelance copyeditor or proofreader need to make their life easier?

Seeing your data clearly

Maya demonstrated using colourful charts to visually enhance selected data, such as an Amount Invoiced/Received Per Month table and a Percentage of Work Per Client pie chart.

  • Monthly Summaries table
  • Client Summaries table
  • Expense Category Summaries table

From these tables, you can tell the percentage of your total income per client, who your best paying client is, how many projects you have for each client, etc. Could your business survive if you lost a particular client?

As with all the sessions at the CIEP conference 2020, I came away invigorated and motivated. Maya finished her session with this fantastic phrase, which I will now use as my business mantra: ‘Check in with yourself and your dreams!’


Special offer

Maya is offering CIEP conference 2020 participants the opportunity to purchase her basic TEA package for £85 until the end of December: more details are available in the ‘Additional Resources’ email sent to delegates after the conference.


Michelle Ward is a CIEP-trained proofreader and the founder of Brook Language Services. Formerly a Modern Foreign Languages/Special Needs teacher and RAF Reservist, she is now an Intermediate Member of the CIEP specialising in proofreading history (Napoleonic/WWII/memoirs/biographies) and polishing texts written by multilingual authors. She loves curling up by the wood burner with a good book and red wine after a countryside dog walk.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

A fascinating look at how words evolve through time

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Sheila Korol reviewed Choosing your words: Using the Historical Thesaurus of English to explore vocabulary, presented by Fraser Dallachy.

Delegates at the 2019 SfEP conference.

As deputy director of the Historical Thesaurus of English, Fraser Dallachy knows words. And his session was timely considering that the second edition was recently released in October.

The Historical Thesaurus is a true labour of love. The first edition was initiated in 1965 but not published until 2009, hardly surprising because the close to 800,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) were individually handwritten on carefully labelled slips of paper. These papers were then sorted and re-sorted by hand until various categories were formed into what would eventually become the initial two-volume publication. A beautiful addition to any bookshelf no doubt, the paperback thesaurus itself was difficult to use even for its originally intended academic audience, who wanted to study the history of ideas as expressed in words.

Fortunately, a much more user-friendly online version also exists (ht.ac.uk), and part of Fraser’s job is to promote this publicly funded resource as a valuable tool for all word lovers. To this end, Fraser and his team continue to work closely with the OED to update words and dates online, striving for ever more accuracy in their historical record of the English language.

His team has also created various visualisations and graphs which users can choose from (and play with), including treemaps, sparklines and heatmaps. Thus, it’s easy to see when words based on a particular topic were historically used. Searches might lead, for example, to a timeline showing whether a word originated in Old or Middle English, whether the word is still used in the present, or how an entire category of words has evolved to reflect changing vocabulary.

How might this prove useful to writers and editors? If you write or edit historical fiction, you can check whether anachronisms have inadvertently been included in the manuscript. Or if you write or edit speculative, say steampunk, fiction, you can search words to help with worldbuilding.

But what the conference delegates seemed most excited about was the Time-Traveller’s Dictionary – a specialised resource meant for writers who want to filter out from the thesaurus only those terms actively used for a specific subject at a particular point in time. However, this remains a work in progress, so keep an eye on the Historical Thesaurus website.

Fraser would love suggestions on how to make the thesaurus even more useful and widely relevant for all word lovers, so please contact him if you have ideas at fraser.dallachy@glasgow.ac.uk.

Sheila Korol is a high school English teacher from Canada who has lived in seven countries over the past 25 years. She currently lives in Hong Kong and is transitioning into a freelance editing career. She has completed the Editing Certificate from Simon Fraser University and is an Entry-Level Member of the CIEP.

 

 


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

How to alter your mindset by changing your space and pace

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Janine Levine reviewed Editing in the era of digital nomadism and COVID-19: challenges and opportunities, presented by Marieke Krijnen.

At Conference Aston, home of the 2019 SfEP conference.

The life of a freelance editor can be a charmed, privileged existence. We have almost unlimited freedom to work when and where we choose, be it the local library, our favourite cosy café, or a fully kitted-out home office complete with RollerMouse and treadmill desk. No one treasures this freedom more than freelance academic copyeditor and self-confessed ‘digital nomad’ Marieke Krijnen, who has lived all over the world, including countries in the Middle East and Europe and in North America. Marieke got the third and final day of the CIEP 2020 conference off to an inspiring start with her webinar, Editing in the era of digital nomadism and COVID-19: Challenges and opportunities.

Marieke is the first to acknowledge the inherent privilege in a term like ‘digital nomad’, but this lifestyle is not without its challenges. From isolation and loneliness to work–life imbalance and back pain, Marieke let us in on the secrets of how she faces down these challenges in her day-to-day life. While international travel is largely on pause, for the time being, more of us find ourselves working remotely or from home during the current pandemic, and, as Marieke illustrated in her presentation, many of the same challenges apply.

There were so many useful, practical takeaways from this webinar that I couldn’t begin to list them all here. Luckily, you can find all the information in this handout compiled by Marieke. From apps and ergonomic office accessories to online forums and social networking groups – not to mention Marieke’s tips and tricks for maintaining good physical and mental wellbeing based on what works best for her – I was heartened to learn that there are so many quick and easy things I can implement right away for a happier, healthier and more productive remote-working lifestyle. I will mention a few of my favourites.

To help with productivity, apps like Freedom can temporarily block access to certain time-swallowing websites of your choosing (Facebook and Twitter are popular choices). To combat feelings of isolation, online groups, such as those on Meetup, bring individuals working within the same profession together for a virtual version of that ‘water cooler’ effect of a traditional office environment. There are also increasing numbers of co-working spaces popping up in cities all over the world. While monthly or yearly subscriptions to these spaces can be pricey, many of them now offer day passes, so that sorely needed change of scenery once a week won’t break the bank. Or, if you can’t make it there in person, you can join a digital co-working space. Lastly, daily practices, like taking a break to do an online yoga class, or simply relocating to another room in the house midway through the day, can be the reset the body and mind need to stay focused. And sticking regularly to these practices can reduce the risk of burnout in the longer term.

The current pandemic has made working from home a reality for the foreseeable future for many of us. While a globe-trotting lifestyle may be out of reach right now, it’s clear that many of the challenges of digital nomadism apply now more than ever, to more of us than ever before. Judging by the level of engagement in the Q&A session, conference attendees found much to inspire them in Marieke’s talk. But for me, the most important takeaway of all was Marieke’s reminder to give ourselves a break. She admits that even she doesn’t manage to follow all her advice all the time, and she certainly doesn’t recommend rushing out and buying a treadmill desk right away. One small change can make a big difference.

Janine Levine is a freelance proofreader and copyeditor based in Toronto, Canada. She specialises in non-fiction editing, including academic pieces and political magazines. When she isn’t working, she enjoys hiking and Zoom calls with friends. She is an Intermediate Member of the CIEP.

 


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.