Category Archives: Forum Matters

CIEP forums: Director update

The forums are one of the CIEP’s most valued networking resources, and they were as busy as ever in 2022. Community director John Ingamells gives his perspective on the CIEP forums this year, and gives us a glimpse of what’s to come in 2023. John covers:

  • our forums as a virtual meeting place
  • changes to our moderation team
  • setting professional boundaries
  • nurturing a supportive atmosphere
  • our plans for 2023.

You will only be able to access links to the posts if you’re a forum user and logged in. Find out how to register.

This is the time of year when many of us look back and assess what has happened in the 12 months just gone: the good, the bad, our successes and slip-ups. For the CIEP forums, it has been a busy year, with the usual abundance of professional advice covering every imaginable aspect of proofreading and editing, alongside our almost daily dose of exquisite speeling misstakes and general malapropisms in the evergreen Typo of the Day.

A virtual meeting place

The forums have gone from strength to strength as one of the CIEP’s most valued offerings to members. They offer a place for members to meet virtually, ask questions, share ideas, and offer helpful tips and useful pointers on anything from the placement of a comma to how to avoid backache from sitting at a screen all day. In many ways, the forums serve as a virtual water cooler for so many of us who work in isolation without the human contact taken for granted in a traditional office space. Many members cite this as an important aspect of their appeal.

They thus act as an important addition or continuation to those opportunities that members have to meet each other in person. Alongside the annual conference, many local groups have traditionally been able to meet in person as well. Of course, that all came to a halt during the pandemic and we saw that, alongside Zoom meetings, the forums provided an important way to stay in touch. Now that COVID restrictions have eased, some groups have arranged in-person meetings again.

Changes to our moderation team

As most members will be aware, the forums are overseen by a team of moderators and, with a couple of long-standing members of the team looking to stand down after many years of service, the Council decided early in 2022 to instigate a formal recruitment process to find new members for the team.

This reflected the Council’s broader wish to professionalise the organisation as well as a recognition of the fact that forum moderation fell squarely within our legal obligations to ensure that our activities and events are free from any form of direct or indirect discrimination. Part of this change was to begin remunerating the moderators. Four new members were duly recruited to the moderation team and joined over the summer.

Setting professional boundaries

This last year has proved to be a busy one for the moderators. The vast majority of traffic on the forums is informative and helpful and, more importantly, is carried out in a friendly and collegiate atmosphere. But we are only human, and it is perhaps to be expected that on rare occasions, when opinions differ, discussions can become more direct.

Now, there is nothing wrong with some robust debate with members expressing opposing views on a topic. But here it is important that we remember what the forums are, namely a closed professional space. Or, to turn that around, it is important to remember what the forums are not – they are not a public social media setting with an anything-goes attitude to what people can post and how they behave. We all need to bear in mind that we are in a professional setting, dealing with colleagues and counterparts.

This is particularly important when discussions are begun around sensitive issues such as race, cultural appropriation, gender and many others. We have no wish to stop discussion of such issues – there are many legitimate questions of an editorial nature that crop up about, for example, how to advise clients on appropriate language or usage when handling a sensitive topic. Language changes, sometimes very quickly, and clients will often welcome up-to-date advice from a professional editor.

Nurturing a supportive atmosphere

As long as the forum threads handle sensitive subjects with care and with a sympathetic regard for all members, discussions can continue. But we know from experience that members have sometimes felt harmed by the way one or two threads have taken things beyond purely editorial contexts.

There are plenty of places out on the internet where issues can be debated full throttle. But in our closed professional space, where we have a responsibility to our diverse membership, we ask members to stay within certain boundaries. If you would like to see more on this topic, it is worth rereading the notice that the chair, Hugh Jackson, posted in February outlining the CIEP’s position.

In this context, it is also worth reminding ourselves that the CIEP has a core aim to listen to and learn from perspectives that may have struggled in the past to be heard in organisations like ours. What we are really trying to do is nurture an atmosphere in which everyone has the confidence to participate actively in the forums.

Into 2023

How we handle the more challenging threads on the forums has itself been the subject of some debate. We have already announced that we are in the process of drawing up new guidelines for the moderation process which we will be sharing with the wider membership in the weeks ahead and welcoming your comments.

Of course, the big challenge for the year ahead will be the move to the new online platform. Like everything on our website, the new forums will look very different, but we will be working hard to ensure that they will continue to be the useful, informative and friendly place that so many members have come to know and love.


Register to join the CIEP forums.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: header image by Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

Forum matters: Creating and editing web content

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

Posts on this topic that are more than a year old might be of only historical interest, given how fast technology changes. The threads referred to in this article have been selected because they link pretty directly to work on websites, but don’t forget that issues of accessibility also apply to (or can be found in relation to) other media, such as PDFs.

Your own website

Although many editors and proofreaders rely on social media to network and expand their business, there is no doubt that having your own website helps establish your professionalism and is a good place for information about you that may get lost on Facebook and Instagram, or when LinkedIn and Twitter revamp their algorithms, or a newcomer takes people up another highway. One member’s request, Advice needed: moving from self-publishing to traditional fiction editing, ranged far and wide and pointed to just that conclusion.

Even if you’ve embraced the idea of developing a website it can be a slog, and a quick reach-out via the forums has kept members on track (‘How best to prioritise?’). After deciding to use a website design company, forum members have asked for recommendations, in threads entitled ‘website’ and ‘Web hosting and domain registrars’. Even that tricky sub-subject of emails has been covered in Email hosting recommendations.

Many CIEP members create and manage their own websites and have shared hard-earned advice on sites and specifics. You may already have chosen a provider, but if you are thinking of managing your own website then maybe you should have a look first at: Squarespace help; Creating a website then Websites again; Portfolio on WordPress website and New member & request for advice.

Members have asked each other for a quick review of their new or revamped websites (see Quid (I proofread your website) pro quo (you proofread mine) and quick website check) and for help on specifics such as T&Cs and Domain Name Extensions, or about the principles of Pricing and its absence on editor websites and the Use of first-person in freelance websites. The number of replies does vary, and sometimes the first one nails the answer, while at other times the discussion ranges so far you feel you’ve attended a mini-course in the subject – see Struggling to be competitive.

There are some topics that apply to more than websites but will certainly add a professional gloss, such as a source to spruce up the background of your profile pic in Useful website to create/edit profile pics or useful advice on accessibility in Text colours and backgrounds – best and worst for legibility? and Q about hyperlinks in Forum signature.

Laptop and notebook

Working on other websites

You don’t have to have created a website to be able to work on one (although it does help), but it is worth doing some training on the subject. CIEP offers two specific courses: Editing Digital Content and Web editing. But the forums are also up there when it comes to learning. We’ve all had an itch when we’ve spotted some bad practice and asked ourselves, should I say something? Read the thread and then decide.

You’d think a business would see editing their website as a no-brainer, but sometimes getting at the content can be tricky. Copyediting of websites and general advice on editing a website offer some useful insights and links.

SEO and accessibility are two aspects that you really need to get to grips with if you are going to offer a good service to website clients, and the forums are full of good advice on: best font/typeface for emails; quote marks and other punctuation for easy reading and accessibility; Rewording a bullet list for a website; Should numbers be spelled out in Websites?; Providing hyperlinks: best practice?

Good luck with your own and other websites. And don’t hold back on developing your skills and sharing your experiences through the CIEP forums.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credit: laptops by Louise Viallesoubranne, notebook and laptop by Marissa Grootes, both on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Forum matters: Fiction and other specialisms

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

Headline graphic saying 'Forum matters: Fiction and other specialisms' with books laid out on a white surface

Supporting members’ specialisms

One of the best things about the CIEP community is the sheer breadth of knowledge held and shared freely by its members. From FRedit to flamingos, there’s bound to be a tasty morsel that will make your life easier, or at least a little more interesting, especially if you dig a little deeper into the specialist groups, which were created to avoid overwhelming the core forums. Find out more about joining one or more of these forums.

Since this issue of The Edit is all about fiction, it’s an opportunity to draw your attention to the Fiction forum, which has over 500 members. Of course, fiction editors will gain a lot from the main forums in the first place, and recent useful threads have covered checking facts, how deep down the rabbit hole you need to go (and whether you should charge extra for spelunking), flamingo migration and the etymology of riverbank architecture. Might these reappear in this year’s CIEP conference quiz? Best take notes.

An exploration on SfEPLine of which tools are available to editors with vision loss or impairment (reassuring to know that loss of vision might not necessarily mean an end to an editing career) connects quite nicely with a thread in the Newbie forum (an underrated goldmine of good advice, if you ask us) about screen readers and Latin abbreviations. Meanwhile, a Marketplace offer spurred a sensitive discussion on SfEPLine about the ethics, legalities and practicalities of working with an author who is not yet an adult, in order to safeguard all stakeholders.

The Macros forum also has useful information for fiction editors, and if you’re looking to add more macros to your toolbox but don’t know where to start, try one of the ones recommended in this thread. A handy macro for fiction editors might be Paul Beverley’s ChapterChopper, which shows the number of words per chapter. This could help editors to pinpoint developmental issues like pace slumps or info-dumping.

If you work with science fiction, you might be interested in Reedsy Sci-Fi week (August–September 2022), or catch up with recordings afterwards. This information appeared on the Events forum, full of links to happenings of interest to editors that you might regret missing.

If your special interest is fiction, this is just the tip of it. Come along as we open the curtain and show you what the Fiction group has been up to.

Digging deeper

This section is link-free because not all of our forum users are members of the Fiction forum. If you’d like to access it, find out how in ‘Joining a specialist forum’, below.

The Fiction Special Interest Group (Fic SIG) invites any member to give a talk on a relevant topic of their choice. Kath Kirk gave a webinar on the special considerations copyeditors need for editing science fiction and fantasy novels. She discussed how to keep track of wibbly-wobbly timelines, and this spurred further discussion in the Fiction forum about which software can help editors to visualise it.

Clare Law’s talk on using data-driven editing to become more efficient, get paid more, reduce anxiety and beat imposter syndrome led to robust discussions in the Fiction forum about which silent changes fiction editors usually make, and which queries they’ve stored in their TextExpander arsenals.

Members of the Fiction forum also shared resources for working on children’s fiction, and how to format a fiction manuscript for submission to a literary agent, as well as recommendations of courses for editors who are looking to build their fiction-editing skills.

If you missed these fabulous discussions, don’t worry! Notes from the talks are shared on the Fiction forum afterwards.

Joining a specialist forum

There’s no barrier to CIEP members’ entry into the specialist groups. Everybody should join their local group forum. Even international members can be local through the Cloud Clubs. Apart from Fiction, other topic-based groups are Music, English Language Teaching, Education, MedSTEM, Languages (translation), Legal and more – and sometimes they’re where the real action is!

If you’re interested in a deeper exploration of a niche or subject related to editing, follow the step-by-step instructions on this page or get in touch with one of the forum moderators.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: books by ready made and woman in a hat by Olivia cox, both on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Forum matters: Conscious language

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

One could argue that an editor’s job is entirely about the conscious use of language. That is, conscious in the senses of: being aware of and responsive to words and their meaning; having knowledge of the topic; having and raising a concern where necessary; being intentional in the choice of vocabulary when suggesting change.

In today’s world, where rapid and easy communication is exposing the unconscious use of language, ‘conscious language’ has become a technical term related to sensitivity and awareness. This interpretation is explored on the forums as members question the use and validity of words and phrases that, up until now, have been employed without thought or a broader understanding.

Resources for fiction editors

The specialist Fiction forum’s invaluable EDI Resources for Editors helps its members to ‘answer questions like “Is this insensitive?” and “How do I phrase this query?” as well as presenting solutions or giving advice for how to approach problematic texts’. There are over 50 links and references to books, websites, organisations, courses and guides that will help you develop your awareness of what conscious language is and how it is developing. The good news for those who aren’t yet on the Fiction forum is that many of these resources also appear on our dedicated EDI webpage.

Maintaining a safe space

While the overarching principle on the forums is that anything is up for reasoned discussion, questioning and point-making, threads can get heated at times. Usually, forum users keep the space constructive and supportive by acknowledging the many facets of different individual experiences. On the rare occasions that the tone gets too personal or aggressive, then the thread is either closed (so no further comments can be posted but all the interesting points can still be seen) or (even more rarely, if the argument is becoming harmful) removed to maintain the forums as a safe space. If you want to see the rationale then please visit section 2 of the CIEP’s Dignity Policy, ‘Statement of expectations’.

Always learning

A common editorial trait is a consciousness of the gaps in our knowledge and the desire to learn from change and from those who do know.

On SfEPLine, Helen Stevens said ‘I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s never considered the connotations of the word “aid”’ when she started Conscious language: the word ‘aid’ to share information about a campaign by organisations in global justice. This did lead to some political discussion, but even more importantly it uncovered useful links and different perspectives on one of the smallest words in the dictionary. Also on SfEPLine is ‘Patient’ as unwanted label: no discussion, just a link to an interesting article.

It’s no surprise that LGBTQ terminology is often discussed on SfEPLine; but that a linguistics gem – and a global language lesson – appears in Off topic is a surprise. Or perhaps not. Are editors ever really off-topic?

The newer Events forum is becoming a source of resources. The number of events that discuss EDI and conscious language is testament to a growing awareness of the importance of being careful about the words used in many situations. Why not add new events postings to your email receipts so you don’t miss out on adding to your skills, knowledge – and CPD for upgrading?

From the macro of Using ‘man’ for ‘humankind’ to the micro of Conscious language, ‘to dwarf’ (v.), from the general of Use of the term ‘Caucasian’ in SfEPLine to the specific of A character with Down’s syndrome in MG fiction – question in the Fiction forum, members are using the forums to clarify language for themselves, their clients and readers.

Discussions are also helping members develop their business through sensitivity or authenticity reading. Authenticity reading – how to charge is practical while White author writing about Black women’s hair is more wide-ranging, and Non-English dialogue in an English context in the Fiction forum places the reader firmly at the centre.

We hope you enjoy developing your knowledge in the safe space of the forums and that you also contribute, as every individual experience casts light on our conscious use of language.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: poppies by corina ardeleanu on Unsplash, umbrella by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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

Forum matters: References

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

Mention to an editor that a project contains references and they are likely to envision a long list of citations that may or may not be appropriate or even needed, and that may be incomplete and multi-styled. A search on ‘reference’ brings up over 2,600 posts (about 400 specifically on citations/referencing) across all forums that cover (among other subjects) styles, references to, ways to reference people, using Word, PDF markup, definite articles, the Bible, information sources, languages, macros and the effect of being in different generations.

Essentially, Luke Finley summarised what browsing the forums can do for you in A fun moment courtesy of ProperNounAlyse: ‘I do like those moments when you can make copy-editing look like some kind of dark art.’

Citations

First to the pure business of citations, which is a core activity for all academic editors and for many works of non-fiction. If you are a regular checker of citations and a macro user then you may already have taken advantage of Paul Beverley’s CitationAlyse; if not, then have a look at Citation checking made even easier and its accompanying YouTube video.

If you are in need of reference management software then that is also dealt with on the forums. Although mention of a discount may be outdated by the time you read Using EndNote to style references, the information about its features, new approaches and the subsequent discussion is well worth a read. There are also threads about Word’s Reference tab (see Word Referencing et al.) and all sorts of macros – some of which become reference lists in their own right (Efficient PDF Markup).

Helpful pointers

Software or hardware updates can occasion glitches and if you don’t have your own IT guru or can’t find a solution via googling, then a quick share on the forums can often help you to keep on checking those references (see Copy & paste weirdness – new PC installation). For people to give you the best answers to many of these queries it can help to upload an example file or image, as demonstrated by the thread Macro for endnotes.

If you are still finding your way as an editor, the forums are a great place to sound out approaches to referencing, whether because of inconsistencies in styling, as in Serial commas in text but not citations, which leads to a steer on how to query; or whether it is helping students settle on the best approach, as in Academic copyediting: combinations of citation and style guides. Checking formatting is also dealt with, from problems with numbering in Reference indent query to addressing the titled in Full name or initials after ‘Sir’ in references. The latter thread leads from knights to the invasion of Grenada to indexing seven Sir Johns! Forum members seem well-versed in matters of etiquette, should you need advice, not just on lords but also on References to Professor/Doctor.

If you are seeking guidance specific to a publisher’s way of working then it is wise to put their name in the topic title, as in Palgrave Macmillan style guide. With the number of members who have signed up to the CIEP forums and their range of experience, you are bound to get a useful (and sensible) response that will help you do the best job for that (new) client.

If you are working with a non-fiction self-publisher then you are probably going to have to make many more decisions about how to style the references and be extra careful about checking them – which was the sort of advice sought in Best citation system? – while you will benefit from the sense expressed in Inclusion of the definite article in journal titles.

Specialisms

Thanks to the reach of CIEP recruitment, many language references can be checked with those who really know their etymology. German referencing issues leads to Ancient Egypt, while Dir. – French abbreviation opens up the world of job titles.

Referencing also comes up in fiction, as in references to Age appropriateness? and the place of violence in a children’s fantasy novel; and references to the 1980s in Exposition/First person POV and how different generations might be frustrated to allusions they won’t understand.

The broad church that is editing (and the CIEP) means that whatever your reference requirement you are likely to find an answer, whether it is on Where to check plant (fruit) species, Citing foreign language films in Chicago or ways of Quoting Whole Bible Chapters. This last led to a personal offer of help, which is not uncommon on the forums, as confirmed by the fulsome thanks in Shouting out about Janet!

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: beach by Anthony Cantin, bookshelf by Yury Nam, both on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

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